Foundation, tournament honor memory of Wright City mayor


HEILIGER FOUNDATION VOLUNTEERS — Volunteers with the Dave Heiliger Memorial Foundation are pictured here at the 2019 Heiliger Memorial Tournament. Front row, from left: Hannah Rogers, Payton Heiliger, Riley Heiliger, Teal Holm, Cathy Heiliger, Jill Smoot and Robyn Ellis. Second row: Jillian Noltkamper, Michelle Heiliger, Angie Scanlon, Teresa Hunt, Valerie Foust, Kim Arbuthnot, Vickie Vohsen and Cristy Rogers. Back row: Kim Vohsen, Jackie Jaspering, Kim Fast, Cindy Orr, Andrea Paul, Adam Heiliger, Steve Rhoades, Peter Holm and Monty Smoot. Submitted photo.
By: 
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

This month will mark the fourth year since the founding of the Dave Heiliger Memorial Foundation and the Heiliger Memorial Golf Tournament.

The tournament this year is Sept. 20, and is the primary fundraiser for an organization that cares for any and all needs of people in Wright City who are struggling. The Heiliger Foundation was founded by the family of Wright City Mayor Dave Heiliger after his unexpexted death in 2017.

Foundation organizer Michelle Heiliger said her husband was the kind of person that others would come to whenever a community member had a need, but not the money for it.

“Dave always kind of figured out how to help them. He did that for years. I can’t tell you how many times he would come home and say, ‘Hey, we paid for this, and I’m sure when these folks get back on their feet, they’ll pay us back,’” Michelle Heiliger recalled. “After he passed away, that outlet kind of dried up for the community. Our kids came up with starting a foundation in his name to continue that work.”

Michelle Heiliger said the foundation provides for any need, small or large. Several weeks ago, it supplied the funds for 10 children to play community soccer. In the past, it has donated to scholarships, utility bills, and helping families with members in the hospital.

“Whatever the need is in the community, we try to find the best way to help,” Heiliger said. “When people have a need, it’s not up to us to judge the need.”

By doing that, the foundation not only continues the work of Dave Heiliger, but keeps alive the memory of a man who loved his city and his neighbors, she said.

The only official fundraising event for the foundation each year is the Dave Heiliger Memorial Golf Tournament, held at the Warrenton Golf Course on Highway 47. Between that and private donations throughout the year, Michelle Heiliger said the foundation usually brings in $18,000-$20,000 each year.

The golf tournament this year is facing the same challenge as many fundraisers: businesses on tight budgets are more hesitant to offer sponsorships. However, Heiliger said the player count is already high, with 21 teams already signed up almost two weeks ahead of the tourney on Sept. 20.

“People come out to have a good time. We have everybody from really good golfers to ones who have literally never played before,” she commented. “We give goofy prizes like best-dressed golfer, worst team, best team. We have fun with it, which is what Dave would have done.”

Heiliger added that the foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) charity, and that anyone who wants to offer support should also check whether their employer matches donations to registered charities.

Heidi Halleman, with the Unite Wright City community group, said her group often works with the Heiliger Foundation. Unite Wright City allows people in need to reach out anonymously to receive assistance, and the Heiliger Foundation is a frequent source of support, Halleman said.

“They’re an amazing community asset,” Halleman commented. She said their help has included children’s activity expenses, diaper and food drive donations, bill payments, and assistance for other nonprofits.

Families struggling with rent payments have benefited from foundation support, Halleman said, including one family with six children struggling with housing.

Halleman said a frequent area of support is paying for equipment for children to play sports.

“Anytime we can get a child to be involved in extracurricular activities that they wouldn’t because of family financing, I think that’s really great,” Halleman commented. “We get a lot of joy out of seeing those.”

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