Kansas Elk of the Year and Kansas Elk Lady of the Year awards were both won by Prattans this year.
Pratt Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler David Foster has been involved with the Elks organization for more than 40 years, still he was surprised when his name was announced as the Kansas Elk of the Year at a recent convention in Wichita. Likewise, Susan Slief, long-time behind-the-scenes supporter of Elks fundraisers and events, was completely surprised when she too, was called forward as the 2019 Kansas Elk Lady of the Year, at the same convention.
"I've been an Elks member for 44 years, involved at the state level for 15 years, I guess that is why I was nominated," said Foster. "This past year I put in over 4,000 miles across the state meeting people and visiting their clubs as an Exalted Ruler. That is what I enjoy the most is just meeting the people. Some of the best friends I've got today are because of the Elks organization."
Foster served his local club as an Exalted Ruler last year and chaired several committees at the local, district or state level, including the Hoop Shoot fundraiser and working to raise fund for KETCH (Kansas Elks Training Center for Handicapped).
"That's what it's really all about," he said. "We hold raffles and special events to raise money for handicapped persons and do what we can to help others through donations to the Food Bank, Open Door and other charities."
Slief, whose award was also a surprise, also works behind the scenes on many Elks Lodge fundraising events, supporting her husband, Roger Slief, an Elks Lodge member and District Deputy.
"This is our life,"Slief said. "We enjoy traveling to meet with other Elks. It is very social and we just enjoy being around other folks who are wanting to do this right, helping others."
Slief said even though she chose not to be an official Elks Lodge member she contributes to the good of the club in many ways.
"I think I was nominated for Lady of the Year because I am the one who can never say no," she said. "I cook when they need a cook, I get stuff ready for fundraising events, I help out wherever help is needed, whenever I can."
Slief is a practicing family medicine doctor at Pratt Regional Medical Center, and her experiences there have shown her how important the KETCH program is for handicapped persons.
"As the chairperson for our KETCH fundraising I just like to know we are helping individuals become more self-sufficient by funding a special place in Wichita where they can learn how to take care of themselves, work at a job, do their own laundry, all in a safe environment. I have patients here whom I wish could be part of the organization because it is such a good thing."
For Foster and Slief, winning the top state awards was nice, but it more importantly reflects the greater good they try to do within their local Elks club, that of helping others.