The Butterflies Backstory

By Carla Sue Broecker

For the past 10 years, members of the board of directors of Heuser Hearing & Language Academy have struggled to find successful fundraising activities that would help offset the costs of supporting the mission of the academy. Previously, there were successful antique shows that brought in the support of large crowds in several downtown arenas. These events were socially successful and offered an opportunity to put the school’s story before the public.

Butterflies in Motion Chair Libby Parkinson with her husband Don.

When it was first established, the school was known as the Louisville Deaf Oral School. It was founded by the Woman’s Club of Louisville with the help of the Kiwanis Club of Louisville. Both organizations directed much of their fundraising efforts to support the school.

The fundamental reason for the ongoing financial shortfall was that no child is ever turned down for services if they have a need. Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) refers all of its hearing-impaired children to Heuser. The way that Heuser is compensated for educating these youngsters is that in lieu of cash, JCPS provides teachers and teaching assistants for every six children that are referred. Of course, what isn’t covered is the cost of running the building and providing all sorts of ancillary services necessary to make the Heuser curriculum and experience what it is: an institution that is nationally recognized as one of the best in the country.

A few years ago, previous traditional resources found it harder than ever to provide the needed funds. The once successful novel activities like antique shows and golf tournaments struggled to succeed. Fortunately, a stroke of luck came about at just at the right time.

One of the Heuser board members just happened to have children and grandchildren living on the West Coast. The grandparent had an abundance of airline mileage points that she used frequently to go west and catch up with that part of their tribe. The grandparent I am speaking of is one of the most delightful, hardworking, community-minded people in Louisville: Libby Parkinson.

Jeannie Ferguson, Margaret Woodside and David Ferguson at the Butterflies in Motion Kickoff Party.

She never stops thinking about what might be good for needy folks and how she might adopt a successful idea from another community for our own. She never says no or it can’t be done when it comes to charities she cares about. And her friends can rarely say no to her when she has her recruiting hat on.

The previously-mentioned stroke of luck came when Libby returned home from a West Coast jaunt so excited she almost couldn’t sit still. She took an idea to Heuser’s Butterfly Society, a group of volunteers founded by the late Sug Schusterman. The school’s symbol is a butterfly because the cochlea of the inner ear looks like a butterfly. These volunteers provide all sorts of services to enrich the Heuser students’ educational and social experience.

The idea was simple: Give a luncheon at a lovely hotel with 25 tables for guests. Get each table sponsored and decorated with a favorite movie theme. Have the tables judged and select the top three designs. Offer a small live auction with some interesting, high-end items. And give the activity a unique name. Libby and her committee suggested the title “Butterflies in Motion” to the sponsoring organization. It worked and has been presented for the past three years, with each year’s revenue surpassing the previous year. Expenses to stage the event total less than 10 percent of the profits. Last year, in about two hours, approximately $145,000 was raised for the school!

Hunter Sattich and Emily Digenis at the Butterflies in Motion Kickoff Party.

This year, Libby and her committee – which includes Kassi Cawood, Deborah Greenwald, Kelly Hannah Carroll, Jeannie Livesay, Will Buschman, Suzanne Moeller and Lindy Street – are off and running on Butterflies in Motion No. 4 to be presented at the Brown Hotel’s iconic Crystal Ballroom on Oct. 18.

To kick things off for this year, Karen and Paul Casi held a splendid cocktail party at the Marcus Lindsey office and entertainment facility on East Market Street to recruit table sponsors. It was a success and several tables were booked. Anyone interested in sponsoring a table at the event – which was named “Best Daytime Event” two years in a row – should contact Libby at 502.893.3927 before they are all gone. VT