Charity Shooters on target for Ed Foundation projects

Pat Blackburn and Fred Schoenberg with Patrice and Dr. Cary Stowe [Photo: Kaila Jones]

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect last Saturday morning as roughly 30 participants gathered at the Windsor Gun Club at Vero Beach Clay Shooting Sports (formerly Indian River Trap & Skeet) for the 19th annual Charity Shoot to benefit the Education Foundation of Indian River County.

Traditionally the last shoot of the Windsor season, its gun pro Nicky Szápáry once again provided instruction when needed and monitored the overall safety of everyone there. The shooters, a randomly drawn mix of newbies and experts, targeted clay disks that had been flung into the air by mechanized traps.

Scores for the three-person teams were based on combined results in the Driven Game Simulation – shooters have 40 shells and about 4 minutes to hit 100 targets launched their way – and Quadruple Three Stand competitions – with 30 targets launched in sets of four. Mulligans help.

Once scores were tallied, winners were announced during a rustically elegant BBQ lunch catered by Windsor.

“You have made impacts on so many people’s lives; all the way from pre-school through, believe it or not, 22-year-olds who are differently-abled children,” said Cathy Filusch, EF board president. “We have projects going on in our middle schools, our high schools and our elementary schools.”

“What’s really exciting is our Step into Kindergarten program is in its fifth year of preparing 4- and 5-year-olds for kindergarten success. It’s a bridge program for children who have been in voluntary pre-K and will be entering a Title 1 elementary school in the fall. So we serve 30 percent of the entering population, which is really exciting,” said Cynthia Falardeau, EF executive director, speaking of just one of numerous programs supported by fundraisers such as this one.

“The biggest benefit of the program really, the feedback we’ve gotten through this whole process, is the social/emotional component of being able to play well with others, attend to tasks and follow directions. So these children have become the leaders in their class; that’s what the teachers have told us. Parents have told us it’s been a great way for them to learn how to navigate the bus, lunch; all these things that can be overwhelming, intimidating,” said Falardeau, adding the parents’ anxiety is lessened as well.

Falardeau noted that three of the students who participated in this year’s Indian River Regional Science & Engineering Fair will be competing later this month at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in Phoenix – the top science fair competition in the world.

Through an Education Foundation high-impact grant for a program called Kinder Gardeners, the kindergartners at Vero Beach Elementary School have been growing hydroponic vertical gardens, integrating science, math, reading and writing in applied learning. Another grant provided to Sebastian River High School has enabled a robotics program where students are learning sciences such as velocity, force and thrust through robotics.

“I think people sometimes think we just serve elementary school, but our work is all grades,” said Falardeau. “It’s really an exciting time for us. It’s our 27th year and we’ve made tremendous strides. And of course, the announcement of our endowment just insures our perpetuity, which is really exciting.”

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Photos by: Kaila Jones
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