“My favorite experience has probably been volunteering at the annual Open Options Shawnee Mission Triathlon … I remember one para-athlete in particular that had lost his arm at the shoulder. I watched him swim the long course, which is 1000 meters or a little over a half mile. Pretty incredible.”
Brennen, why did you initially become interested in Open Options?
I have a friend that was a former Board member and we were talking one day. I told him that I’d like to volunteer with a local organization and he suggested that I attend one of the Open Options Board meetings with him. When I introduced myself at the meeting I mentioned that I had a background in healthcare operations. It seemed like a good fit and there was an opening on the board. That was six years ago this month.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a lifelong resident of Kansas City. I live in Lenexa with my wife, 14 year-old daughter and our dog, Tobey. Our daughter plays club and high school softball so that keeps us pretty busy. I still manage to play a little softball each week and when we’re home we watch all the Royals games we can.
What excites you about the mission of Open Options?
Open Options has provided care 24 hours a day, day in, day out, for more than 37 years. It’s been an extremely reliable organization and I think we can do more. In the face of declining reimbursement and cuts in state funding its more important than ever to expand into other areas of care. What’s exciting is Open Options has the stability and structure to provide more support for more people by offering additional programs within the community.
What do you wish other people knew about developmental and intellectual disabilities?
The people that Open Options serve have various levels of care needs and each person is different. At a certain point though, they all want to be as independent as they can. Open Options does a great job balancing what the person needs with what they can do for themselves. The care is obviously critical but the value and confidence each person draws from doing things for themselves is probably more important than anything else.
What has been your favorite experience working with Open Options?
My favorite experience has probably been volunteering at the annual Open Options Shawnee Mission Triathlon. The triathlon features local and national para-athletes that participate in the event. On the day of the race I’m usually at the water’s edge helping the swimmers stand up on the boat ramp. I remember one para-athlete in particular that had lost his arm at the shoulder. I watched him swim the long course, which is 1000 meters or a little over a half mile. Pretty incredible. There are over 700 people that complete the course each year and it’s really something to see.