Weir-Enegren, Linda

Year Inducted: 
Linda Weir-Enegren
  • Founder of Rainbows United in Sedgwick County
  • Recognized in 1991 by Ladies Home Journal as “An American Heroine”
  • 1998 recipient of the Distinguished Service to Kansas Children Award from the Kansas Children’s Service League
  • Recipient of the Outstanding Parent Award from the National Association for the Severely Handicapped (TASH)

        Linda Weir-Enegren has pioneered numerous programs for children and has actively advocated for children’s issues. She has founded organizations to assist children with disabilities and foster children and has raised millions of dollars for social and political causes. She has lived what she advocates by adopting and raising five special needs children. As president and general manager of her family’s business, Linda has also been a very successful business woman.

          As a recent graduate from the University of Kansas working at the Kansas Neurological Institute, an institution for children with severe disabilities, Linda determined that she wanted to help children with severe disabilities learn basic self-care skills to give their families much needed support and to provide them an alternative to having to institutionalize their children. In 1972, at the age of 24, with the help of volunteers, she founded Rainbows United, a pre-school for disabled children. Today Rainbows is a United Way agency with professional staff serving nearly 3,000 children in Sedgwick County. Linda went on to establish five other organizations centered around the needs of children and the disabled: a home training program for children with disabilities in northwest rural Kansas (1974); Wichita Community Work Release Program (1974); Wichita Community Advocacy for Developmentally Disabled Persons (1975); Roots and Wings (1981); CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocacy) (1981); and, Pathways (1988).

          Through the years, Linda has been a tireless fundraiser for numerous social and political causes including, but not limited to, the organizations that she was instrumental in founding. She has served as chair of the Children’s Miracle Network and the Easter Seal telethons. Linda has also excelled as a businesswoman. She and her husband Phil Enegren founded L.S. Industries, a manufacturer of blasting and degreasing equipment. Linda serves as the president and general manager of the company. The successful company employs 50 people and has business all over the globe.

          Linda has not only served as an advocate for children with disabilities, but has lived her advocacy. Linda and Phil have raised 7 children, 2 birth children and 5 adopted children. Those 5 children were all children with special needs and/or disabilities who, because of Linda and Phil, were raised in a loving and caring home and were given every opportunity to reach their maximum potential.

          Linda is the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards through the years. Nationally, she was recognized as one of ten Outstanding Young Women in America by Outstanding Young Americans (1977); she received an award for outstanding achievement from Mademoiselle Magazine (1978); she received the Outstanding Parent Award from the National Association for the Severely Handicapped (TASH) (1983); and she was recognized as “An American Herione” by Ladies Home Journal (1991). Linda has also received numerous awards and recognitions in Kansas including the Distinguished Service to Kansas Children Award from the Kansas Children’s Service League in1998 and the “Through the Eyes of a Child” award which is a unique award created to honor Linda’s ability to humanize the policy making process for Kansas Children by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services in 1991.

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