Immokalee Foundation: Annual Charity Classic fundraiser celebrates Immokalee youth
Growing up, we all wanted to be something: doctor, lawyer, professional athlete, firefighter or police officer — the possibilities were endless. We can all relate to the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
The children of Immokalee have those same aspirations. They dream of a better life, one that doesn’t require them to spend all day in the fields, picking fruits and vegetables in the blazing hot sun for meager wages. It’s a life for which they are familiar. Many have even worked in the fields from a young age to help their struggling parents make ends meet.
With hardships, however, come triumphs, and it’s no different for Immokalee’s youth. Despite their challenges, or perhaps because of those challenges, kids rise up and work hard to make their dreams a reality.
This Saturday, Nov. 16, at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, hundreds of guests will have the chance to hear the voices of our future aspiring doctors, lawyers, nurses, accountants, business owners, mechanics and plumbers, who will share stories of struggle — whether its poverty, crime or a language barrier — as well as tales of hope, ambition and triumph at The Immokalee Foundation’s Charity Classic Celebration dinner and auction.
The annual fundraising event — the organization’s largest and most important of the year — gives patrons the opportunity to literally make dreams come true for the students involved in The Immokalee Foundation (TIF) and its vital programs. Plus, current and former students will share with the audience the impact TIF has had in leading them toward a brighter future.
This year’s theme encourages benefactors to follow the “Pathways to Success: Voices of the Future” to support TIF’s mission in providing sustained educational opportunities that make goals achievable for Immokalee children. The evening is complete with fine dining, exciting entertainment and Fund A Dream, a “fund-a-need” live bidding experience enabling donors to contribute to students in a specific and tangible way. One hundred percent of the funds raised during Fund A Dream will benefit the category of choice selected.
Fund A Dream is organized into five specific categories. Each one provides students with opportunities to grow, learn and advance, such as attending a College Success boot camp, tutoring, attending a professional baseball game (a first for many) or taking part in career and networking seminars. Donors may even provide students with college scholarships, literacy enhancement, career development and experiences to build leadership and life skills. All are designed to help TIF in its mission to give students the tools, support and confidence necessary to succeed. Thanks, in part, to the enormous support of the community, the organization is making tremendous strides. One hundred percent of the students who participate in a TIF program graduate from high school, bringing them that much closer to achieving their dream.
Golfers can play a large part in the festivities by playing in the Charity Classic Pro-Am golf tournament Monday, Nov. 18, at Bay Colony Golf Club in Naples. The exclusive tournament is limited to 25 foursomes, plus pros. For the past several years, PGA and Champions Tour professional and Golf Channel analyst Mark Lye has recruited top professionals from the PGA, Champions and LPGA tours to take part in the fundraiser, and this year is no exception.
The lineup consists of golfing greats Michael Bradley, Ken Duke, Steve Flesch, Jeff Gove, Dudley Hart, Nolan Henke, Tim Herron, Skip Kendall, Luke List, George McNeill, George Murray and Joe Ogilvie from the PGA Tour; Russ Chochran, Damon Green, Mike Hulbert and Wayne Levi from the Champions Tour; Mark Lye, Frank Nobilo, Craig Perks and Charlie Rymer, professional golfers and television personalities; Veronica Felibert, Pernilla Lindberg, Michelle McGann and Kris Tschetter from the LPGA Tour; and Jamie Sadlowski, a long drive champ.
Since the children of Immokalee are central to the cause, four students within TIF programs are invited to participate as a foursome in the event. It not only gives them a great experience, but it allows the kids to interact with those who are supporting TIF programs.