Our organization began thanks to one woman who wanted to make a difference. In 1972, Donna J. Stone had a vision of a future in which no children are ever abused or neglected. She recognized the importance of ensuring great childhoods for all children, so she founded the Family Achievement Center in Chicago. Donna didn’t just want to stop child abuse, she wanted to prevent it before it ever happened in the first place.
At our 45th Anniversary Gala, we looked back on our history and celebrated Donna J. Stone and her vision. Below are some highlights from our Gala event:
SuEllen Fried was a close friend of Donna’s and remains a dear friend of Prevent Child Abuse America today. She was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gala in recognition of her decades of service in support of our mission. In 1976, SuEllen founded the first chapter of our organization in Kansas. From 1980-1982 she served as the Chair of our Board of Directors and SuEllen still serves on our board today as a Lifetime Member.
Donna was an alumna of Kappa Delta Sorority, and in honor of her legacy Prevent Child Abuse America became Kappa Delta’s national philanthropy in 1981. At our 45th Anniversary Celebration we were honored to have Alison Jakes-Argersinger, former Kappa Delta National President and Representative to Prevent Child Abuse America, present us with their annual donation. In 2017, Kappa Delta sisters from across the country raised a total of $497,985! We are eternally grateful to the Kappa Deltas.
Our keynote speaker was Dr. Norman Stone, Donna’s brother. A philanthropist and psychotherapist currently living in San Francisco, Dr. Stone shared a story about his older sister and her dedication to her cause. Three days before a critically important fundraiser, Donna was forced to undergo emergency surgery to fight brain cancer. The surgery was successful, and though on the mend, her doctor did not want her leaving. But the event was so important to Donna that she couldn’t be told no. Recalling the event, Dr. Stone said:
“When Donna walked in, unannounced and unexpected, it was a breathtaking moment. Escorted by the 2 Coast Guard officers, who kept her upright and helped her walk, she came to the front of the room and turned to the crowd. The audience was in disbelief that Donna had shown up after major brain surgery, and the nearly 75 guests gave her a standing ovation.
It was difficult for Donna to talk, but she did. She spoke about the mission of the organization, why it mattered and how passionately she cared about kids. She told them how important this fundraiser was to achieving the mission of the organization.
Everyone was overwhelmed with so many emotions, a mixture of sadness, anxiety, joy, anticipation…and a high respect for Donna. People seemed to feel the unspoken strength of a woman facing adversity, the courage of one individual setting out on a magnificent obsession of preventing child abuse across the country while knowing what a challenge that is too.”
In honor of Donna and the work of Prevent Child Abuse America, the Illinois Senate issued a proclamation. State Senator Kyle McCarter from Illinois’ 54th district attended the gala and read the proclamation to the crowd, declaring April 2018 as “Prevent Child Abuse in Illinois” month.
We were grateful to have members of our national Board of Directors present alongside representatives from our Chapters from New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina and Illinois. We deeply appreciate all of the sponsors who helped make this event possible.