Resident hits age 30, decides to give back
Cameron Rutledge has hit the big 3-0.
Rutledge turned 30 on Monday and plans to celebrate the milestone Sunday.
However, after the cake has been devoured and the punch consumed, Rutledge will be passing his gifts on to someone else.
Rutledge's father, Jim, said his son, who has cerebral palsy, plans to donate proceeds from his birthday open house to Donna Conrad, a 27-year-old Tonganoxie woman who has Arnold-Chiari Malformation -- a disorder in which part of the brain hangs too low, cutting off the flow of spinal fluid to the rest of the body.
"It's kind of Cameron's way of giving back for his birthday," Jim Rutledge said.
The open house will be from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Tonganoxie Community Historic Site, 201 W. Washington St.
At the event, several items will be available through a silent auction. Sports memorabilia and various donations from area businesses will be included in that list of items.
Jeanel Gressel, of Lenexa, has been working with Kansas City Royals and Kansas City T-Bones officials for donations for the auctions. She and her husband, Gary, also will be donating sports memorabilia from their personal collection for the event.
Some of the items to be auctioned include: Restaurant gift certificates, Kansas City Royals ticket vouchers for the 2008 season, Royals autographed photos, various T-Bones memorabilia, as well as various T-Bones bobbleheads, including that of Ray Brown. Danni Boatwright bobbleheads will be available as well.
Brown is a former T-Bones player who resides in the area, while Boatwright, a Tonganoxie High School graduate who formerly represented Kansas in beauty pageants, won the CBS reality show "Survivor: Guatemala."
For the past four years, Jeanel and Gary Gressel have served as a host family for several T-Bones players. One player they've gotten to know, Jonathan Krysa, is expected to appear Sunday.
Gressel said she and her husband have season tickets to T-Bones games.
"That's how I met Cameron," Gressel said, "little heart-stealer that he is."
Gressel said she saw Cameron at a game and instantly connected with his glowing personality.
"Cameron speaks with his eyes," Gressel said. Cameron's father, Jim, said his son was pretty outgoing, especially with women.
"They call him a big flirt," Jim said. "He picks on the ladies."
Through his relationship with the Gressels, Cameron has gotten to meet several T-Bones players and has an extensive collection of T-Bones memorabilia.
Cameron lives north of Jarbalo. He has received much support from the Tonganoxie community, his father said. For instance, when Cameron was 2 and in need of extensive physical therapy, a benefit at THS that brought former Kansas City Royals pitchers Dennis Leonard and Paul Splittorff to Tonganoxie.
It's now time to pay it forward, according to Jim.
"The community has done so much for Cameron," Jim said. "He wanted to give something back."
Jim and his wife, Dixie, urge the community to come to come to their son's open house. That includes the many volunteers who helped in patterning Cameron when he was 2. Patterning is a type of physical therapy used in assisting cerebral palsy patients.