LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) - - They are the faces of The WHAS Crusade for Children Braden West, Liam Knight, Jewel Cox and Summer Riley. The list of success stories goes on and on: Dante, Nicholas and Caleb also better off today because of the crusade, as are hundreds of other children.
Last year the crusade raised $5.3 million, still many needs weren't met.
"For me personally it is difficult sometimes to have to say no we can't," said Reverend Charles Burton.
Burton is one of 12 ministers who compose the crusades minister advisory council. They hear hundreds of grant requests each spring, and they make tough decisions with money raised.
"It's a tedious process to go through and ask for clarification and see what is really being needed in this community to help these children," said Dr. Tom Mobley from The Nelson Chrisitian Church.
The first folks out collecting for the crusade this year was The Monroe Township Fire Department in Henryville where a tornado destroyed Henryville High School. We sat in on West Clark Community Schools request with the minister advisory council as they questioned the folks seeking grant money.
“Are you in the building there in Henryville or what used to be the building there in Henryville?” asked Mobley.
Assistant Superintendent John Reed says they re-evaluated, but didn't change Crusade requests this year after the tornado.
"It becomes vitally important for you to get what funds you can wherever you can find them to purchase the kinds of things that need to be replaced," said John Reed who is the Assistant Superintendent at West Clark Community Schools.
The Director of Special Education in Clark County, Ann Schnepf, says she was frightened the first time she went before the panel because she knows how important those funds are to her kids.
"They asked earnest questions about what I was asking for, why I needed it and really made me be accountable for what I was asking for," explained Schnepf.
The council doesn’t take the responsibility lightly.
"We feel it's kind of a sacred trust to see that it does the best need that it can," said Father Nick Rice from the Archdiocese of Louisville.
With your help, these kids can continue to get the help they need, and maybe if we dig a little deeper this year the crusade can get funds to another child desperately looking for help.
"The crusade offers tools that can help teachers help kids," explained Schnepf.
"I don't know of any other community in this nation that has done what this community has done with The WHAS Crusade for Children," added Dr. Burton with a sense of pride.
The crusade has also set up an endowment board to make sure 100 percent contributions go directly to special need kids. The crusade endowment campaign fully funds future operational costs.