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Stylish sneakers seen at Education Fundraiser

VERO BEACH — Fancy dress met fancy sneakers at the Education Foundation of Indian River County Rags to Riches event at the Moorings Saturday night.  The dichotomy brought back memories of New York City during a transit strike as guests happily took a stand for education, while wearing comfy yet creative footwear.

Although a few holdouts sported stylish heels, many of the ladies thoroughly enjoyed the idea of making their fashion statements from a position of comfort.  Guests were greeted at the entrance by board president Sue Tompkins and a bevy of beauties sporting cocktail dresses and fancifully laced, colorful sneakers.  An elegant Lee Moore, attired in classic black cocktail dress and cherry red shawl, completed her outfit with zebra stripped socks and high-tops adorned with photos of her boys, Jack and Connor.  And new board member Pat Donovan was doing more than showing off a shapely ankle – she had education foundation spelled out in little beads laced into her glittery sliver sneakers.

The Rags to Riches theme, based on the concept that through education people can go from rags to riches, opted for an added sneaker kick in honor of the Foundation’s Sneaker Exchange.  Tables were decorated with festive hand painted, bejeweled sneaker centerpieces, illuminated by little blinking lights.

Board member and event co-chair Ann Thorpe noted that 2,200 children received shoes last year through the Sneaker Exchange and the demand has increased this year by a dramatic 25 percent.  Children, identified by Indian River County school staff, are either taken to or given vouchers for new sneakers from Payless Shoes.  His voice at times choking with emotion, board member Bill Furr remarked on the devastatingly poor condition of some of the children’s footwear.  “A child came in last week with the worst I’ve seen,” added Thorpe.  “Someone had cut holes at the top of the shoe to make room for his toes.”

The Foundation’s other core programs were also on display at the event.  Teachers demonstrated the hand-held technology recently purchased for the Sebastian River Elementary School, through a grant obtained by the Foundation.  Adriana Olaya, a student at Gifford Middle School was on hand, proudly displaying the First Place and Grand Prize Awards she received at the 54th State Science and Engineering Fair for her microbiology science project.  Finalists were chosen from more than 150,000 projects submitted by 11,000 students throughout the state.

The evening’s festivities continued with a tempting buffet and carving station, to compliment the special Appletini cocktails.  Sneakers came in handy as partygoers traversed from one section of the large dining room into another for the Las Vegas style gaming tables and a live auction with guest auctioneer Commissioner Wesley Davis. {igallery 93}

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