Arc of Butler planning major fundraising event

Clients of the Arc of Butler participate in the Special Olympics.
Clients of the Arc of Butler participate in the Special Olympics.

Like a lot of nonprofit organizations, the Arc of Butler has struggled financially along with the economy.

It’s something that Nancy Olson, executive director of the Arc of Butler, would like to change.

“We grew so tremendously fast, you come to a point where you have to start cutting costs and downsizing, which is not the direction that we want to go,” Olson said. “Our grants are small, and our needs are big.”

To help meet those needs, the nonprofit is planning its largest fundraising event ever to celebrate its 60th anniversary. “Have a Heart for the Arc” will be held Feb. 15 in El Dorado.

Founded in 1954 and based in El Dorado, the Arc of Butler is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities to people with developmental disabilities and their families. It sponsors the Butler Blazers Special Olympics teams, social events and informational meetings.

“The greatest challenge for money is Special Olympics,” Olson said. “There are so many costs that people don’t even realize.

“On top of that, we have a lot of families who want to participate in the Olympics but can’t afford it. We don’t want to exclude anyone.”

According to Dave Matthews, president of the group’s board of directors, the Arc of Butler was on the verge of closing last year.

“We just weren’t generating any kind of real money,” he said. “We had to change something.”

Matthews said he approached the board with the idea for a gala fundraiser. The board agreed and the plan was set in motion.

“You’ve got to start planning these things at least a year in advance, and we didn’t start planning until September,” Matthews said.

“Everyone has been putting in a lot of extra hours to make it happen. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The money raised will be used to add weightlifting and soccer teams, more social activities, monthly informational meetings. It also will fund new support groups for families dealing with autism, and parents of infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities.

“This event isn’t just to raise money,” Olson said. “We want to raise awareness and get people interested in our cause.”