Saturday showcase to benefit CASA



February 2, 2017 - 12:00 AM

At first glance, the women’s passions seem a study in contrasts.
As an attorney, Aimeé Daniels shuns the spotlight, quietly laboring for children in desperate situations, those who have been removed from their homes because of dangerous domestic circumstances. Daniels is director of CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, whose job it is to help children in cases of abuse or neglect.
For everything muted about Daniels, is animated in Lara Megan Weber, owner of The Studio, a dance and gymnastics center in Yates Center.
With a mantra of “The show must go on,” Weber is a master of showmanship, corralling groups of dancers and tumblers decked out in glitter and tulle.
A mother of five, the youthful Weber seems nonplussed by the task.
So what do somersaults and leaps have in common with victims’ rights?
“By putting the spotlight on CASA, I can help show the desperate situations some of these children face,” Weber said.
On Saturday night, the second annual Bright Lights-Big Hearts talent showcase and silent auction will donate all proceeds to CASA, which serves the children of the 31st Judicial District — Allen, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson counties.
Doors open at 6 p.m. at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center. Admission is $15 and tickets can be purchased at the door. Items for a silent auction will be in the lower level and homemade concessions will be in the main foyer.
Last year’s affair in Yates Center raised about $2,700 for CASA. This year’s goal is $4,500.
Daniels currently has 22 advocates to handle a caseload “many times bigger,” she said. “I’d love to have 50 advocates.”
But Daniels understands the commitment such volunteer work entails. In 2015, there were 219 children removed from their homes in the 31st District and classified as Child In Need of Care cases. Of those 219, CASA was able to help 50 children.
Typically, an individual case, which includes helping children cope with legal proceedings, can take 18 to 20 months.
“Most people aren’t aware of the needs of these children because by necessity their cases are kept confidential,” Daniels said. “Most aren’t aware of our services, or the need of our services.”
Funds for CASA help staff its office and provide services.
THE entertainment Saturday will include magicians, musicians, dancers and acrobats.
Korso the Curious, a magician from Overland Park, will serve as master of ceremonies throughout the evening. Performers will include dance troupe members from Yates Center, Iola and Chanute; IHS band students; Annika Wooten, a Miss Kansas contestant known for her upside-down speed painting; Sabra Aguirre will sing and play the piano while Abigail Weber will dance; and Hali Dawson will inspire as an aerial silk artist.
ALTOGETHER more than 70 performers will be on stage throughout the program.
“The entertainment is going to be incredible,” Daniels said. “All the studios are sending their best acts.”
For those who can’t attend Saturday’s showcase, donations to CASA can be sent to: CASA, 1 N. Washington, Allen County Courthouse, Iola, KS 66749. Daniels also can be reached at 365-1448 or by email at

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