The Geneva National Foundation was founded in 2005 by the owners and Executive Management Team of the Geneva National Resort & Club. We are a 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the lives of those living with developmental disabilities in Walworth County through monetary grants for specific requests that promote education, mobility, relationship building, life skills and other vital enhancements.
Through the years, our primary means of fundraising has been through annual golf outings, most notably being the Lifelong Empowerment Open (L.E.O.), which ran for 10 years. Geneva National donates the use of one, two or all three of its three legendary golf courses in support of the Foundation's mission.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
The Geneva National Foundation exists to support individuals with disabilities or special needs, their families, and the 501 (c)(3) organizations and agencies that provide for them in Walworth County, WI.
Since 2005, Geneva National Foundation has served special needs residents of Walworth County, Wisconsin with grants for individuals with physical, developmental and mental disabilities as well as area service providers.
Through the support of our generous donors and volunteers, we have raised more than $2.5 million during the past 12 years. Monies raised provide grants that fund such needs as wheelchairs, guide dogs, retrofitted iPads, occupational, aquatic and musical therapies, specialized playground and tumbling equipment, an indoor pool, Special Olympics uniforms, art programs, karate instruction,
noise-reducing headphones, nursing records software and much more.
Our primary fundraiser has been the annual Lifelong Empowerment Open
(LEO) -- a summer golf event, auction and dinner at the legendary
Geneva National Resort & Club in Lake Geneva, WI. Join us! Together, we
can continue to turn disabilities into possibilities in our community.
WHO WE ARE
CELEBRATING A DECADE of Turning Disabilities into Possibilities
TEN YEARS AGO, a few of Geneva National Golf Club’s members were discussing equine therapy for children with special needs when GN executive Kevin Paluch stopped in and offered up one of the Club’s championship courses for a benefit. That 2005 golf event marked the beginning of the Geneva National Foundation and its main fundraiser, the Lifelong Empowerment Open, better known as the L.E.O.
Now celebrating its 10th year of turning disabilities into possibilities, the volunteer-run Foundation to date has raised over $2.5 million in donations, and the L.E.O. has become the single-largest fundraiser in the community -- requiring two or all three of the Club’s legendary courses.
“Walworth County is Geneva National’s and our home, so it was natural to lend our assistance to the 4,500-plus disabled individuals in our community,” says the Foundation’s acting director Pamela Chambers, whose family owns and operates the Geneva National Resort. “When my husband, Garth, and I relocated to Wisconsin, our son and his family chose to move here as well. As a multi-generational family business, we’re committed to this community.”
Chambers notes that one of the Foundation’s first beneficiaries became Elkhorn’s Lakeland School, which received support for award-winning indoor lap and therapy pools for the school’s 270 special education students, ages 3 to 21. This year, the Foundation provided $10,000 for the purchase of musical playground instruments and additional swings to meet studentssensory and motor development needs while also allowing non-verbal students to express themselves. “Geneva National Foundation’s many years of efforts can be seen throughout our facility, filling our school with the latest technology and equipment to enhance the lives of our special students,” notes Lakeland’s administrator Tracy Moate.
A recent $6,000 grant for Whitewater-based Studio 84 also promotes self-expression among the disabled, as the funds provide needed art materials as well as help to keep class fees affordable.
“For many, this is the first time in their life that they get to make all the decisions about what is happening – choosing materials, colors and placement. It’s amazingly powerful,” notes Studio 84 founder and director Deborah Blackwell. “One student was working on a series of small mono prints of faces, stopped what she was doing and exclaimed, ‘These all came from me! These are all my own ideas!’ It is these types of realizations that keep us going.”
The Foundation also has been instrumental in helping support area children with autism and their families through the Mercy Foundation’s Autism Support Fund, according to Mercy Foundation director Jennifer Johns. GN Foundation’s recent $20,000 grant has helped provide registration and fees for aquatic and musical therapies as well as noise reduction headphones, iPads and weighted blankets.
In addition to such large organizational grants, the Foundation also welcomes individual requests – be it for a therapy dog, customized wheelchair, summer camp, or even an inflatable tumbling wheel.
“Many of the disabled do not have the same stabilizers we do, so we use the tumbling wheel to develop core stability and balance, and in doing so, boost confidence,” says Jessica Viss, founder of Williams Bay’s Bayside Athletics, which offers tumbling classes and a cheer team for those with physical or developmental disabilities. “One of my 16-year-old autistic students used to say ‘I can’t’ seven times before she would try something new. Halfway through the session, she starting saying ‘I can’ instead.”
For those stepping up to help like Viss, whose programs are totally dependent on volunteers and donations, Geneva National Foundation’s visionary support makes all the difference. “We couldn’t have this equipment without someone believing in it, says Viss, “and we couldn’t have a program without it.”