Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bill Self: Jo Ann Ball's charitable mission should be continued for a long time


Golf took a backseat to the First Lady of the Ball’s Charity Golf Classic at the Classic’s annual pre-tournament luncheon.

JoAnn Ball, who helped found the Classic that over the past 32 years ago has raised nearly $5 million for KVC Health Systems Inc. and other charitable organizations, passed away at age 77 on May 14.

“We are deeply saddened by her passing,” said B. Wayne Sims, KVC President and CEO.  “As one of KVC’s ‘Founding Mothers,’ Jo Ann was part of the Junior League that originally recognized the great need of children in our community and helped KVC become the organization it is today. Her kindness, generosity and compassion were remarkable and her dedication to KVC’s children inspired so many in the community to join her in her mission to make a difference.”

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self concurred.

“I’ve seen how so many have been affected in such a positive way,” said Self, a KVC board member. “The sacrifices of the Ball Family have been remarkable. This is a sad time but a great time. The mission JoAnn had, it is important to continue for a long, long time.”

The Classic evolved out of an annual picnic for vendors hosted by Fred and JoAnn Ball in their backyard. Over the years, a golf game was initiated before dinner and a few bets placed. “My mother said that money was going for a good cause,” said David Ball, President and CEO of Ball’s Food Store. This year’s tourney  Monday drew nearly 300 amateur and professional golfers to The National Golf Club of Kansas City and it’s sister course, The Deuce.

Today, KVC Health Systems not only touches the lives of thousands of children and families in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, West Virginia and Kentucky but is looked on as the premier caregiver for foster children in the nation.

In fact, 19 states do not conform to federal foster care regulations and as a result the District of Columbia’s Child and Family Service Agency and agencies in several other states have approached Sims and KVC for assistance in raising their agencies to required standards.

Self shared speaking honors with Retired Air Force Major Dan Rooney, a F-16 fighter pilot and PGA Professional who founded the Folds of Honor Foundation, a non-profit organization providing scholarships to the spouses and children of military service members disabled or killed in action. In just five years, the Folds of Honor has raised more than $22 million and awarded nearly 4,000 scholarships.

Self also has a charitable foundation. Called the Assists Foundation founded in 2006 by he and his wife, Cindy, to help young people, the Self’s have committed $2 million for a new Douglas County community recreation center in Lawrence.

Boasting one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, Self said the Jayhawks will likely go nine deep this fall – four “bigs” and five perimeter players. “We’re so big inside, we’ll tell our guys to foul although on the perimeter it will be a little different.”

Is there a risk of having too many good players and not giving them enough playing time? “I think that’s always the case but it still comes down to competition,” said Self. ”I’ve always found that most players want to go where they have the best chance of winning. But then it’s not my job to make them happy; it’s their job to make me happy.”

As for the No. 1 recruit in the nation, Andrew Wiggins, Self said: “He’s a terrific talent but it’s not fair to compare him to others. He’s just 18 years old. He’s good, there’s no question about that. But he’s a very humble person who would just like to be just a kid.”

Self expects all five of his starters from this past year to play professionally.

The NBA draft is Thursday and Self said Ben McLemore could go No. 1 and 7-foot Jeff Withey late in the first round or early in the second.

“I don’t know about Travis (Releford). Everyone wants to be drafted but I’m not sure that would be best because then you’re committed to one team. If you’re not drafted, then you can pick and choose. But he could be drafted. He’s such a stud.”

Elijah Johnson and Kevin Young both could be headed overseas, especially Young because he would not count against a limit of American players per team.

PHOTO: Kansas basketball coach Bill Self (from left) was joined by Folds of Honor founder Maj. Dan Rooney, KVC President and CEO B. Wayne Sims, Ball’s Food Stores President and CEO David Ball and retired KU broadcaster Max Falkenstein at the annual Ball’s Charity Golf luncheon. (Photo by Alan Hoskins)