VERO BEACH — An eclectic mix of bikers and beach bunnies, restaurant regulars and radio personalities, and a few scantily-clad Budweiser and Rum Girls thrown in for good measure, all gathered en mass at the Driftwood Resort Sunday afternoon for Waldo’s Fourth Annual Christmas in July fundraiser to benefit the Love Doctors Charities.
And despite the spring break demeanor of the sweat-glistened crowd enjoying the steamy beachside afternoon, everyone was in total agreement that the event was all about the kids.
The day began with the two newest Christmas in July components; the Cathy McCloskey Memorial Golf Tournament, followed by a Golf Ball Drop. The four-person scramble, played on the Lakes Course at the Sandridge Golf Club, was named in memory of Cathy McCloskey, a former Christmas in July volunteer whose daughter is employed by Waldo’s. Out of the 20 teams that participated, the foursome, Davin Olsen, Bill Lindsey, Nick Digioia and Joshua VerPorter, took top honors with an impressive golf score of 57.
With the new Golf Ball Drop, approximately 400 balls, each representing a $20 raffle ticket, were released from a large crane over a putting green. The winner, whose ball was the first of four to actually make it into the hole, was Craig Votino. The lucky winner had participated in the golf tournament as part of the Cisco Foods team, which had also donated all the food for the event’s outdoor cookout.
By about 2 p.m. some of the 42 participants in the motorcycle Poker Run had begun roaring back in, and the volunteers checking the poker hands said they had already collected about $1,000 in cash.
“It’s going on 17 years now,” said “Dr. Rich” Dickerson of their annual Love Doctors Toy Drive.
“Dr. Rich” as he is known on air, and “Dr. Glenn”, aka Glenn Curtis, are the hosts of The Love Doctors at Real Radio. The two formed the nonprofit charitable organization in 1994 to collect toys for children in need and it has grown considerably each year.
“Glen and I were on air one day in December and just started asking people to donate,” said Dickerson. “I think we got enough for 50 kids that first year. Last year there were about 9,600 kids served; they each get three toys.”
“I think it’s so successful because of their on-air personalities,” said Waldo’s Manager Lee Olsen, who began Waldo’s Christmas in July four years ago as a grass roots effort to get the toy drive energized over the summer.
“This has helped us a whole lot; before it was all done on the air,” added Dickerson.
“It’s all about raising money and gifts for the kids,” said Waldo’s Assistant Manager Joe Smith. “I got on board about 13 years ago when I was working at Bombay Louis. I would have the on-air personalities go around with a bucket, collecting money. You can’t help all the people all the time; this is what we’ve chosen to do.”
“Waldo’s has done a phenomenal job putting this on every year,” agreed Glenn Curtis. “This will go a long way towards the toy drive.”
Santa’s sleigh, prominently displayed at the entrance to the restaurant, continued to fill up with generous toy donations dropped off as people arrived to enjoy the festivities and rock out poolside to the band, Uproot Hootenanny.
“This has been great,” laughed Kerry Firth, partying with her friend Pamela Bennett. “It benefits all the kids, and I like seeing everyone having so much fun.”