Harry Truman once said “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”

Harry Truman once said “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”

Members of the “Wild About Harry” committee may well have drawn inspiration from Truman’s sage insight when an unforeseen scheduling snafu caused scheduled keynote speaker Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, to regretfully cancel his attendance at the upcoming April 28 fundraiser.

Swiftly turning a difficulty into an opportunity, the Truman Library Institute and “Wild About Harry” group reached out through its network and secured a replacement speaker to step into the absence created by Justice Breyer. Maintaining Truman-esque optimism, the planning committee successfully recruited Emmy award-winning media personality Phil Donahue to fulfill the role of keynote speaker for the Institute’s annual gathering.

In 1999, the Truman Library Institute hosted a fundraising event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Truman’s inauguration. That first intimate gathering in a downtown hotel suite established the beginnings of what is now one of the most unique and recognizable events in the Kansas City area.

Through the ensuing 13 years, “Wild About Harry” has evolved from a gathering of dedicated Truman Library supporters to crowds that fill hotel ballrooms to capacity. Hallmarks of “Wild About Harry” have always been its diverse crowd, an evening program that is equally entertaining and educational and the celebration of the life, character and accomplishments of Harry Truman.

While the “Wild About Harry” steering committee continues to make innovations from year to year, the familiar and successful format of presenting nationally known authors, historians, reporters and political experts remains a mainstay. In 2010, the Truman Library Institute established the Harry S Truman Legacy of Leadership Award, presenting the inaugural honor to former Secretary of State James Baker. This year’s award will be bestowed upon former Missouri Governor and U.S. Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond.

Proceeds from “Wild About Harry” benefit the non-profit partner of the Truman Library. It is this organization that funds, promotes and executes the wide range of exhibits, educational curriculums, scholarships, research grants and public programs made available through the Truman Library each year. The Institute is also credited with developing and operating the renowned White House Decision Center, which allows student and adult groups to learn about governmental decision-making processes through an interactive role-playing program.

“Wild About Harry” will be held Thursday beginning at 6:15 p.m. at the Marriott Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City. A sponsors’ reception with the opportunity to interact with Donahue and Bond will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Sponsorships are available beginning at $1,000 with individual tickets priced at $150. To purchase sponsorships or tickets, contact the Truman Library Institute at 816-268-8200 or visit www.trumanlibrary.org.