News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 28, 2013

SPPRAK raising funds and spirits

Event helps out victims of recent tornado

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A simple white banner was displayed just beside the entrance gates of Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium on Saturday bore the kind messages of this community to a community recently affected by a weather-related tragedy.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with you,” wrote one community member.

“Rebuild, renew, rejoice,” wrote another.

Others simply signed their names.

The banner bearing the Terre Haute’s message will travel to Moore, Okla., on Sept. 9 to be received by the officials of the Moore Public School District, whose students, staff and faculty were affected by the massive tornado that ripped across Moore on May 20.

The tornado killed 24 people, injured dozens and destroyed two elementary schools.

The banner was one of the first things people saw when they walked into the stadium, the venue of “SPPRAK Moore, OK Family Fun Day” on Saturday.

It is a fundraising event co-organized by the Terre Haute Rex baseball team and non-profit organization SPPRAK (which means Special People Performing Random Acts of Kindness) to benefit the victims of the violent tornado.

SPPRAK co-founder Kim Grubb said the event is an opportunity to “bring the community together and to reach out to another community.”

Grubb said the event is a message to the victims of the tornado that “they’re not alone and that people haven’t forgotten them.”

“Hopefully the SPPRAK Pack banner will remind them that,” she said.

And the community showed up in support.

Two of the attendees had a “dual purpose” for attending the event.

“We just wanted to support… SPPRAK and also the firefighters and policemen,” said Sheri Swan of Terre Haute, who stood by her husband and retired firefighter Pastor Rick Swan by the SPPRAK banner.

Swan said she “really admires” what SPPRAK is doing and that the group has “brought a lot of vitality to Terre Haute.” She added that the group inspired kids in the area to perform good deeds.  

In addition to the signed banner, Grubb and SPPRAK co-founders Robin Heng and Susan Short will present 32 blank banners to Moore Public School counselors to take to the 32 schools in the district so students can write notes about the acts of kindness they have been performing every day. A similar activity was a success at Vigo County Schools.

The group plans to travel to personally deliver the banners, the money raised from donations at the event and to volunteer.

But the SPPRAK Pack banner was just one aspect of this event. The “FUNdraising day” included a Rex doubleheader game (against the Springfield Sliders), a “Battle of the Shield” softball game between the Terre Haute Fire Department and the Terre Haute Police Department and activities for the family.

“It’s one big event,” said Casey DeGroote, general manager of the Terre Haute Rex.

“We’re doing so much stuff today that we’ve never done before,” he said, adding that there were also fireworks and a movie shown on the field after the second game.

Grubb and DeGroote are happy with the turnout. DeGroote said 894 people watched the first game, which the Sliders won 3-2.

“It’s our first time trying this out. It’s going really well,” he said after the first game, adding that they expected a bigger crowd for the second game.

It was going so well that DeGroote hopes to “build on this” for the future, making it “bigger and better each year.”

About nine vendors offered different activities at the “Kids Zone.”  The Terre Haute YMCA hosted kids’ zumba, the Terre Haute Police Department K-9 unit had demonstrations and the VNA and Hospice had sand art.

Each hour, attendees gathered around the “Kids Zone” to watch a dance performed by the students of Nancy Sauer School of Theatrical Dancing.

“I think it’s such a good cause. Plus it gives the kids an extra opportunity to perform, which is always fun,” said dance school owner Wende Personette.

Nine girls whose ages range from 6-16 danced to the tune of “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore ft. Ryan Lewis.

One of the performers was Personette’s 10-year old daughter, Lela Porter, who said she was nervous about performing but thought it was fun. She enjoyed seeing friends at the event, some of them she hasn’t seen all summer.

She thinks highly of the event.

“I thought it was fun-filledtastic,” Lela said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or