Saturday morning, Valparaiso’s Noon Kiwanis Club hosted its 67th Pancake Day Breakfast, an annual fundraiser featuring delicious food, refreshments, and friendly faces.
The yearly event was held at Valparaiso High School’s cafeteria, where the century-old club served mouthwatering hotcakes, sausage, orange juice and coffee to residents from all around Northwest Indiana.
“We have fundraisers all year long, but this one is by far our biggest,” said Tim Bucher, the co-Pancake Committee Chairman. “We serve around 2,200 people every year.”
The first Pancake Day Breakfast was held in 1962 at the Moose Lodge at the corner of Michigan and Indiana in Valparaiso. After 20 years, the breakfast was relocated to the high school, where it has been ever since. Along with the community and the Kiwanis Club, the high school hosts a variety of entertainment fun for all ages.
“Every year we provide entertainment for everyone who attends,” Bucher explained. “Today, the Key Clubs from Valparaiso, Morgan and Washington Township, Boone Groove and Wheeler High School are entertaining the kids with face painting. Later, there will be a piano recital and a choir performance for everyone to enjoy.”
While the Pancake Day Breakfast is the largest event of the year, raising over $20,000 for scholarships and donations, it isn’t the only day the Noon Kiwanis Club serves the community. Year round, all 160 members dedicate their time and energy to local kids and families in need. Every penny the club makes goes directly back to the community, for organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts of America, and Riley Children’s Hospital.
“You’re around some of the most unselfish and compassionate people,” Lenny Corso, a Kiwanis Club member, said. “They’re generous with their time and through our charitable fundraisers, we raise $50,000 every year that we give to those who need it.”
People from all over Northwest Indiana made their way to the high school to enjoy an all-you-can eat, delicious meal with friends and family. For some, this is an annual tradition, like a group of close friends who attend every year, while for others, it was their first Pancake Day Breakfast, but hopefully not their last.
“I heard about the pancake breakfast through a friend,” said Ashley Berry of Kouts. “Today is actually our first time attending the breakfast and so far, it’s pretty amazing.”
As people carrying trays of food searched for an open seat in the busy cafeteria, they were not only greeted by the club members volunteering their time, but also by another organization raising money for a good cause.
The Valparaiso Police Department K-9 Unit sold t-shirts for their “Guardians of the Night” 5K run in May. While volunteers and officers sold t-shirts, the two most recent additions to the K-9 Unit, Vega and Kaiser, loved the attention as people cuddled and pet them, while their handlers, Officers Nick Kobitka and Ryan Sobierajski, made conversation with grateful patrons.
“Because of fundraisers like this one, we were able to add Vega and Kaiser to our team last fall,” said Officer Todd Kobitz, the head of the K-9 Unit. “Fundraisers help cover the cost of training the dogs and the equipment, giving us another way to keep the community safe.”
Just like the K-9 Unit, the Valparaiso Noon Kiwanis Club is committed to creating a safe and friendly community. And for the past 102 years, they’ve been doing that through fundraisers, scholarships and delicious pancakes.
“One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed the Kiwanis Club so much is because of what we do,” Corso said. “It’s all about helping people and the community.”
For more information about the Valparaiso Noon Kiwanis Club, go to www.valpokiwanis.org.