When we think of heroes, we normally think of powerful people who accomplish great feats of bravery, determination and self-sacrifice in order to benefit another person or the greater good of humanity.

When we think of heroes, we normally think of powerful people who accomplish great feats of bravery, determination and self-sacrifice in order to benefit another person or the greater good of humanity.

Sometimes, however, heroism is about facing danger from a position of vulnerability and possessing the courage, perseverance and strength of character to survive devastating circumstances.

By that definition, Nathan Ross is a hero.

One of the many adopted children of Lori and Randy Ross, Nathan is a survivor of traumatic childhood and adolescent abuse and extreme neglect. Beginning at a young age and continuing for several years, Nathan and his siblings were starved, beaten and physically and psychologically tortured by their mother, forced to live a life of constant fear and isolation.

Following the loss of two siblings due to the affects of abuse, Nathan and his surviving brother and sister were removed from their mother’s custody and placed in foster care.

Nearly 350 guests who attended the Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association “Forever Families Gala” on Saturday evening had the privilege of hearing Nathan tell his gripping story of survival. Introduced by Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who praised foster and adoptive families for their “generous and unselfish acts,” Nathan courageously shared the horrifying conditions under which he and his siblings struggled to exist and challenged each individual present to save a child’s life by supporting foster and adoptive families and becoming more acutely aware of child abuse in their schools and neighborhoods.

Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association, located on the Drumm Farm campus in Independence, is a support organization for families who have answered the call to change the course of children’s lives by becoming licensed foster parents. The non-profit agency was established 11 years ago by Lori Ross to offer advocacy, training and other services to families who care for the most vulnerable members of society.

“I can’t think of anything more important,” Ross said on Saturday night to the capacity crowd that filled the InterContinental Hotel ballroom on the Country Club Plaza.

Each year, MFCAA assists foster families in accessing the necessary resources to allow them to create and maintain a loving, safe and reliable home life for children who have been temporarily or permanently removed from their family of origin because of physical and/or emotional trauma.

The need for services provided by MFCAA continues to increase as the number of licensed foster families is in decline. Those services include respite, advocacy in the legal, educational, and health care systems, training on topics such as parenting a child with emotional issues and access to a free food pantry and clothing closet to meet the immediate needs of children.

Currently there are an estimated 1,500 children in foster care in Jackson County, an increase of 31 percent from one year ago. The number of licensed foster families in the area is estimated to be down 20 percent from last year.

The “Forever Families Gala” was planned and executed by the MFCAA staff and board of directors to generate necessary funding to support these ongoing services. Beginning with a private VIP sponsors reception for the event’s most generous donors, the evening continued with a cocktail reception and silent auction. Guests were then welcomed to the elegant ballroom for dinner, the evening’s program and a live auction. State Rep. Jason Holsman, who represents the 45th District including South Kansas City and Grandview, assumed duties as the master of ceremonies.

To learn more about MFCAA or contribute to this vital cause, please visit www.mfcaa.org or call 816-350-0215.