SKIL exists in part because people give us monetary and other donations. We’d like to introduce these wonderful folks to you and honor them in our new website Menu Link, “Donors Corner.”
Every quarter we will feature one or more donors. Please click on the Main Menu Link “News” to the left of this article, then scroll down and click on “Donors Corner” to read about those who help us keep our doors open!
Our first Donors Corner features well-known philanthropists Peter F. and JoDee Herschend of Branson, Missouri. The Herschends and their family own Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), which includes Silver Dollar City, White Water, the Showboat Branson Belle, the Harlem Globetrotters and other top-quality entertainment experiences. Today Herschend Family Entertainment is considered the largest family-owned themed attractions corporation in the United States. Peter and his brother Jack Herschend founded the entertainment company.
Long known for his marketing genius, Peter was instrumental in helping to turn the small Missouri town of Branson into a world-class live entertainment capital. He is the recipient of prestigious tourism and other awards. Now 80 years old, Peter works with HFE leadership on a daily basis while travelling and enjoying his extended family. He is at his office desk four to five days a week.
Peter has selflessly served others throughout his career. In 1990 he was appointed by then-Governor John Ashcroft to the Missouri State Board of Education. He has served as Board President for three separate terms and continues in active service on the board today.
Peter is America’s all-time high cumulative fund-raiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS 150 Bike Tour. He has raised over $1,500,000 to support the National MS Society’s efforts in defeating MS.
He is on the board of directors of Camp Barnabas in Purdy, Missouri, a distinctive Christian camp for children and teens with life-threatening illnesses and disabilities. He is in leadership positions at other non-profit organizations. A serious Christian, Peter actively serves his community and church, generously donating time and money to help improve the lives of many.
Peter and his wife JoDee Herschend have been married 49 years. JoDee, a graduate of Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU) in Springfield, has with Peter been actively involved in numerous Christian ministries over the years, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Episcopal World Missions.
JoDee founded The Caring People, a North American non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to “creating an awareness of and a desire to meet Jesus.” The influential Branson-based ministry currently focuses on care groups which minster to single mothers.
In 2014 Peter and JoDee made a generous donation to SKIL to help fund a position for longtime SKIL and Herschend friend Nancy G. Holman, after she suffered the heavy life loss of her last surviving parent and struggled to move forward. Nancy is a nationally published freelance writer who holds a B.A. degree in Writing from Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU) in Springfield. She works in Writing and Outreach Services at the Parsons SKIL office and is helping to “put us on the map” via her efforts.
The Herschends value the work that SKIL does. Peter shares their thoughts:
“This region is more fortunate that you would realize to have an organization like SKIL, devoted lock, stock and barrel to the well-being of our communities and citizens who need and deserve the help SKIL provides,” said Peter in an e-mail.
Thanks, Peter and JoDee, for your selfless generosity in supporting our mission to serve people with disabilities and raise public awareness about them. You are admired and appreciated!
To nominate someone for Donors Corner, please contact Nancy G. Holman at Parsons SKIL. Call 1-800-688-5616 or stop by our office at 1801 Main St. in Parsons. All nominations will be considered.