On occasion, little Hand in Hand has gotten some great attention from well-known people interested in our unique program. For example, former Governor Vilsack had a press conference in one of our colorful rooms. PGA golfers from the John Deere Classic and Olympic qualifying runners from the Bix have also visited with our summer participants. Amazingly, a number of Heisman Trophy winners have helped raise money for Hand in Hand including Johnny Lujack and Paul Horning. Steve Alford, Bobby Knight, and Lou Holtz were other sport celebrities who also supported these fundraising events.
One memorable year, a famous Hollywood hair stylist donated his time & talent to do an amazing makeover so one of our participants could attend her high school prom. She was so excited! A friend of Hand in Hand hearing this story donated a limo experience to make this prom even better. When the stylist learned more about our Hand in Hand families he offered to do a makeover for one of our hardworking parents too. That day a high school teenager and a mother had the experience of a lifetime. That makeover was a whorl of caring attention, fancy hair product, scissors, hair, and laughter flying in every direction. We also heard nonstop stories of this stylist interactions with stars like Ellen DeGeneres and many others that was unforgettable.
In 2012 Country Star Trace Adkins visited Hand in Hand, as part of his show Great American Heroes. He and his film crew taped a day of programs at Hand in Hand and invited some of us to his concert that night. The experience was later broadcast on national TV. Quite a moment for our little local non-profit!
Trace is a huge man standing about 6’6” not counting is cowboy boots and Stetson hat. He just filled up the entrance when he walked in the door. Trace put that big black hat on one of our children from childcare and they nearly disappeared under it. He was not feeling well the day of his visit and almost cancelled, but when Mr. Adkins met our Hand in Hand children he was captured…as so many of us have been over the years.
Some of our participant sang karaoke with him and he really loved it. One young girl in particular desperately wanted to sing with him “Every Light In The House Is Gone” one of his big hits. As they sang together, tears started to roll down each of their faces and we were quickly all a mess of tears and smiles. Trace’s manager was standing nearby and said “Trace is a tough cowboy and I don’t often see him this way”.
When the filming was completed, he stayed until every parent and child present got a picture, a an autograph, and some kind words. I especially remember, during the filming Trace noticed a number of our staff shyly watching in the background. He stopped in the middle of the taping to grown of this filming crew and walked over to them say hello. It was a spontaneous gesture of kindness that meant a lot to us all.