For decades, retired Shook Partner Gene Balloun has given hope and new beginnings to countless families across Kansas City. The Johnson County Bar Association, at its annual meeting, recognized Balloun with its President's Award for his work overseeing foster care adoptions for more than 1,000 families. The attendees gave Balloun a standing ovation as he took the stage before peers, judges and colleagues.
“I've had Gene in mind for this award for a long time,” said Judge Kelly Ryan, president of the Johnson County Bar Association. “From Gene's pro bono adoptions, to creating scholarships for foster children, this is what the President's Award is all about. It is given to someone who goes above and beyond.”
Balloun thanked Shook for the firm's “unwavering support" and put the spotlight on his paralegals, crediting Kathy Hoffman and Shawna Johnson for their efforts.
In 2018, Shook hit a milestone with pro bono adoptions. The Shook-founded Kansas Foster and Adoptive Children Scholarship Fund reached $1 million in scholarships awarded to foster children since the program began in 2001. The program uses state-paid fees from pro bono adoption cases to fund the program. To date, Shook has handled 1,315 Kansas adoption cases, helping families complete the legal process of finding permanent homes for children. In addition, Balloun and the Shook pro bono team handled the legal work for 19 of the 29 adoptions that occurred in Kansas on National Adoption Day earlier this year.
Balloun went on to thank the judges for their roles and the “thousands of parents who opened up their hearts to help nurture and produce happy individuals.”
He concluded his remarks by simply summarizing why he has dedicated a good portion of his career to uniting deserving children with families.
“There is no greater reward than the love of a child.”