Submitted by JustJim Endicott.
They walk among us. People that are givers. Sometimes they don’t get much recognition for their efforts. Mike Darrah is one such giver. Always giving his time and effort to help others. Especially the kids. Always about the kids. A number of years ago, Mike and his wife, Ann, owned a small business in Federal Way, a children’s shoe store called Kids Kobbler for enough years to not remember exactly how many. More than 10, anyway.
He still remembers some of those first years with Ann. At some family gatherings the adults were gathered together. Mike was conspicuously absent from the room. He would usually be found at those gatherings outside, playing with the kids.
Mike has been a member of the Kiwanis Club, a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time, for the past 48 years. He was the president of the Kiwanis Club of Federal Way quite a few years back. One of his most lasting memories is delivering a couple of Thanksgiving food baskets to a family in need. It was a mom and her 3 young kids living in a rundown dwelling. After setting the baskets on a makeshift table, the Kiwanians looked back inside after they departed. There was Mom and the 3 young kids gathered around that “table” and the baskets, astounded by what was in front of them. To this day that image remains in Mike’s head.
For 7 or 8 years Mike and family members participated in the Lakewood Relay for Life, 3 of those years he was the Event Chair. In 2011 he presented the Bob Moawad Inspirational Award to a participant in a wheelchair.
During the presentation, he mentioned that the award was only presented when someone worthy enough was participating in the Relay. It was the only time I saw this award given in the 6 years that I participated in the Lakewood Relay. Mike was the one that recognized the value of this little-known award.
Mike recently served kids for 9 years as a bus driver in the Clover Park School District, a bus driver for handicapped children, the sometimes difficult children whose ability to function physically, mentally, or socially is restricted. He remembers one child that would sometimes use profanity aimed at others, sometimes including him, the bus driver. He would see that same child come running when the bus arrived, warmly greet Mike and ask for a hug. Mike knew that if you treated them with respect, which he always did, they would act appropriately.
As a member of the Kiwanis Club of Clover Park, Mike was the driving force behind last year’s installing of brand-new playground equipment at Lakewood’s Kiwanis Park. After convincing his small, in numbers, Kiwanis Club that, indeed, they could raise the $60,000 for the equipment he led the group beyond the goal, raising over $70,000, thereby upgrading the purchased equipment, and the “new” park was dedicated October 26 of last year. Nearly a year later, 20 Kiwanis members rededicated the park, this time with Mike able to attend, on Saturday, October 24, by naming it the Mike Darrah Playground.
These days Mike’s involvement with the Kiwanis Club of Clover Park has decreased. He and his wife, Ann, have recently moved from Lakewood to the Canyon Road area. Their children live in Puyallup. Now Mike and Ann are minutes away from visits to their children and grandchildren. For Mike Darrah, it’s still all about the kids!