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Event marks LifeQuest's 50th

Carole and Pat Kappenman, Mitchell, peruse the large collection of photos on display for LifeQuest's 50th Anniversary community cookout Thursday. (Laura Wehde/Republic Photo)

Parking spots and burger buns quickly filled as friends, family, employees and members of the public celebrated LifeQuest's 50th anniversary at a community picnic Thursday.

People served by LifeQuest, as well as relatives, workers, and board members, took in a 280-photo slide show and eight tables of loose photos, newspaper clippings and old newsletters. The visuals celebrated the history of the Mitchell based nonprofit service, which helps people with disabilities acquire new life skills and lead more meaningful lives.

"It's just a walk down memory lane," said Daryl Kilstrom, executive director.

Developmental director Brian Loken headed up much of the planning for the picnic, including putting together the slideshow and a booklet filled with memories and anecdotes. Loken said organizers anticipated around 400 people to attend the picnic and aimed for a "low-key" event. "Though you never know with

this crew," Loken joked. Mike Sejnoha helped start LifeQuest's job development pro- gram in 1985 and now works as vocational supervisor. He said that he's "just amazed" that the agency is 50 years old.

"The ways things have changed and advanced people's lives -- it's been a ball," he said.

Vern Hegwood is a former board member whose twin sons are supported by LifeQuest. Ronald and Donald Hegwood recently turned 50, and Hegwood was delighted to see LifeQuest throw a birthday party. The twins lived in separate facilities for 33 years and were only reunited two years ago.

Hegwood credited his sons' case worker, Karen Sudbeck, with being "the best we've ever had."

"She's just like family," he said.

Sudbeck returned the sentiment and said she has enjoyed her 14 years working for LifeQuest.

"It's just fun to look back at pictures and remember everyone and how the building has changed and the services have changed," she said. "It's been fun."

The Mitchell Exchange Club donated hamburgers, hot dogs, brats and chips, and Coke and Pepsi supplied the beverages.