SKIL exists in part because people give us monetary and other donations. We would like to introduce these wonderful folks and honor them in our website Menu Link, “Donors Corner.”
Every quarter we will feature one or more donors. Please click on the Main Menu Link “News” to the left of this article, then scroll down and click on “Donors Corner” to read about those who help us keep our doors open!
Our first Donors Corner features well-known philanthropists Peter F. and JoDee Herschend of Branson, Missouri. The Herschends and their family own Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation, which includes Silver Dollar City, White Water, the Showboat Branson Belle, the Harlem Globetrotters and other top-quality entertainment experiences. Today Herschend Family Entertainment is considered the largest family-owned attractions corporation in the United States. Peter and his brother Jack Herschend founded the entertainment company.
Long known for his marketing genius, Peter was instrumental in helping to turn the small Missouri town of Branson into a world-class live entertainment capital. He is the recipient of prestigious tourism and other awards. Now 81 years old, Peter works with company leadership on a daily basis while travelling and enjoying his extended family. When not travelling, he is often at his office desk several days a week.
Peter has selflessly served others throughout his storied career. In 1990 he was appointed by then-Governor John Ashcroft to the Missouri State Board of Education. He has served as President for three separate terms and continues in active board service today.
Peter is America’s all-time high cumulative fund-raiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS 150 Bike Tour. He has raised over $1,500,000 to support the Society’s efforts to defeat MS.
He is on the board of directors of Camp Barnabas in Purdy, Missouri, a distinctive Christian camp for children and teens with life-threatening illnesses and disabilities. He is in leadership positions at other non-profit organizations.
A serious Christian, Peter actively serves his community and church, generously donating time and money to help improve the lives of many.
Peter and his wife JoDee Herschend have been married for 52 years. JoDee, a graduate of Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU) in Springfield, has with Peter been actively involved in numerous Christian ministries over the years, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Episcopal World Missions.
JoDee founded The Caring People, a North American non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to “creating an awareness of and a desire to meet Jesus.” The influential Branson-based ministry focuses on care groups which minister to single mothers.
JoDee is a survivor of various cancers, including lymphoma and kidney cancer. With an indomitable spirit, she continues her heroic fight daily against this terrible disease. JoDee’s life is an inspiration to all who know her.
Peter and JoDee have made generous donations to SKIL to fund a part-time position for SKIL and Herschend friend Nancy G. Holman, after she suffered the heavy life loss of her last surviving parent and struggled to move forward. Nancy is a nationally published freelance writer who holds a B.A. degree in Writing from Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU) in Springfield. She works in Public Relations at Parsons SKIL and is helping to “put us on the map” via her efforts.
The Herschends value the work that SKIL does. Peter shares their thoughts:
“This region is more fortunate than you would realize to have an organization like SKIL, devoted lock, stock and barrel to the well-being of our communities and citizens who need and deserve the help SKIL provides,” said Peter in an e-mail.
Thank you, Peter and JoDee, for your selfless generosity in supporting our mission to serve people with disabilities and raise public awareness about them. You are greatly admired and appreciated!
The Herschends Donors Corner article was published on SKIL’s website in 2015. On November 25, 2018 JoDee Herschend walked into heaven following a heroic 24-year battle against cancer.
She leaves behind her husband Peter F. Herschend, five adult children, extended family and a host of friends and admirers of her Christian life and service to the community. The Branson-based organization JoDee founded, The Caring People, continues to grow in its ministry to single mothers. Through it and her many other efforts to serve others, JoDee’s wonderful legacy will live on.
SKIL and Nancy extend their heartfelt sympathies to Peter and his family in JoDee’s loss.
To nominate someone for Donors Corner, please contact Nancy G. Holman at SKIL: 1-800-688-5616, drop her a note at: SKIL, P.O. Box 957, Parsons, KS 67357 or stop by our office at 1801 Main St. in Parsons. All nominations will be considered.