top of page
  • Foto del escritorPlaneta Venus

From Challenge to Champion: Rachel Banning's Journey of Family, Community, and Compassion

By Jhannely Esparza | Planeta Venus | July 6, 2024

Rachel Banning
Rachel Banning, new President of Rainbows United, Inc. Picture by Fernando Salazar | Planeta Venus

Originally from Wichita Kansas, Rachel Banning is a third generation Mexican through her father’s side. Her father was Mexican American. Banning’s family has some unique traditions where they blend both cultures together.

Cooking fried tacos on Superbowl Sundays is a tradition Banning and her family carry through generations. Every veteran’s day they roll tamales and always cook enchiladas for Christmas.

In addition to her strong family ties, Banning has played a major role in many local nonprofit organizations and the Wichita community. Before getting involved in these organizations she had started out as a fashion major before her personal experiences led her to make a career change.

Her daughter Mia was born with a traumatic brain injury after going through some complications during her birth. Leading her to be introduced to a local nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of children with special needs and their families, Rainbows United.

Seven years later, Banning and her husband adopted her son Dylan. Her son originally was receiving services at Kids’ Cove, a branch of Rainbows United located in the west side of Wichita, which really allowed her to see the difference between the different services and their individual strategies. “I always remember when we would go to other services well… Rainbows made it a little bit more fun.” They seemed to have the child’s perspective and were very inclusive of all the parents, according to Banning.

Discipline and her love for family has shaped all the impact Banning creates around her. When Banning is not busy at work making a positive change in the community, she is really focusing on her family life and maintaining her relationships. She starts her days very early by working out at 5 o’clock in the morning with her husband every day. This is her way of making sure she stays aligned with life in general and helps her mentally prepare for the day. She prioritizes her selfcare by going on walks or hikes to reflect and gather her thoughts.

Although her Journey as President of Rainbows United Inc. has just recently begun, Banning was first introduced to the organization in the year 2000. “Rainbows showed up within 12 hours of Mia’s birth. She was born at 10 o'clock at night and by 10 o'clock the next morning they were there.” Banning’s first impression of Rainbows was how present they immediately were in her family's life from the beginning of their new journey. She appreciated how the social worker just sat with her and reassured her that they were not alone.

Rainbows United quickly became a huge resource for Banning and provided the information and equipment that was needed to help her daughter get through the early stages. Banning threw herself into learning how the whole system worked to help her daughter navigate through.

“You kind of just do that enough that you’re ready to start passing that on to the mom or dad behind you.” - Banning shared - “Wichita is an incredible community. We just have that small town spirit to help one another through things. I have an incredible family and I think sometimes we get in our own way of things.”
Rachel Banning
Rachel Banning at Rainbows United, Inc. Picture by Fernando Salazar | PlanetaVenus

One of the biggest lessons Banning had to learn was how to ask and accept help from those around her. In her conversation with Planeta Venus, Banning highlights some examples on how she and her daughter received help from the community, like people simply opening doors for her when her daughter was in a wheelchair. An employee at a market store offered to help her during her grocery trips after watching her struggle with her daughter, and her curious son that wanted to grab everything in the store. She mentioned how important it is to remind ourselves that we are all human and that it is okay to ask for help and receive it.

“Our community genuinely wants to help. They’re very giving and charitable… and they’re curious. I think that curiosity makes it okay for me to engage them.” Banning believes it is important to educate the community regarding situations that can sometimes be uncomfortable for most.

Rainbows United has a big team with a wide outreach in the community. When Planeta Venus asked Banning what qualities, she has learned over time through previous organizations and which ones would she apply most to her new position she shared that she gained a significant amount of knowledge in other organizations like the Orpheum Theater, where she recently completed her cycle as the executive director and how she handled complex budgets. Another organization Banning worked for is Families Together, Inc. where she gained some insights and helped her connect with families and stay focused on the mission thanks to all the volunteers and parents that were helping, and she managed. The Junior League of Wichita gave her the right networking tools.

Banning has been a recipient of Rainbows United services for many years and is now excited that she gets to be on the other side of it to help parents that are beginning a new journey. Having a personal grasp on these experiences will really help Banning to give the sense of connection and relatability that most parents are looking for. 

Banning shared how excited she is about the 2023-2026 strategic plan that Rainbows has released. Highlighting the focus on the vocabulary that was used to explain their goals followed by a supportive team. The plan was made around the budget supporting the work needing to be done in the community and securing the right staff and making sure they feel supported enough to value the mission.

Rainbows United does a good job of providing as much information for families. Although they do their part for the Latino community, Banning understands that there could be language barriers that intimidate parents. “It is very hard, to be intimate when you can’t communicate. When Mia was born, we had a ton of questions, and nobody could really answer them. And to think that I have a professional that is in charge of my daughter’s health who I can’t communicate with is probably even more terrifying than what I had to endure. So, I think Rainbows United can help with that.” Although her faith in the resources that Rainbows can provide to the Latino community is very present, she believes that they could do a better job of making it clear that they are an ally during those times many families in the area face.

56 visualizaciones0 comentarios

Entradas Recientes

Ver todo


bottom of page