Project Legacy continues to impact the surrounding community. At a Legacy in Motion event Tuesday at Heritage Community Church in Fruitland Park, checks were awarded to Wildwood Elementary School and HoopsLife. Organizations that received support from Project Legacy in 2015 were also in attendance and reflected on what the support from Project Legacy has meant to their organization.
From humble beginnings five years ago, Project Legacy enters its sixth year having invested more than $72,000 into more than 35 organizations that work with area children.
The first check for $1,500 was awarded to Wildwood Elementary School. School Principal John Temple unable to attend because of illness, sent a thank you via text and noted that the money would be used to fund a school field trip to the Kennedy Space Center.
The second check for $2,000 was accepted by Pat Burke founder of HoopsLife. Burke a former NBA player who played for the Orlando Magic, started a post-player career in radio broadcasting. A conversation with a friend led to working with some area youth.
“I started with two kids in my backyard and I was hooked,” Burke said.
Within a month he was training 20 youngsters and realized their needs went much deeper than a game. He now operates two centers, one in Tavares and one in Clermont. The emphasis is on leadership and life-skills ranging from building confidence to communication skills to time management.
“We give them a safe place to fail, which leads to positive opportunities,” said Burke. “After a few weeks with these kids, we see a big transformation on and off the court.”
The mission of Project Legacy according to founding member and lead pastor at Heritage Community Church Sidney Brock is to bring awareness that leads to generosity. Funds, from various groups both inside and outside The Villages, are donated and the Legacy Board determines the needs based on applications submitted. The money donated helps support organizations that help children up to the age of 18 such as the Boys and Girls Club of Lake and Sumter counties, Wildwood Baseball League, the Lady Lake Soccer Club and Take Stock in Children, to name but a few of the many organizations that have received help.
One of the big supporters of Project Legacy is “We Bike for Kids.” Last year the organization donated $9,000. Wildwood High School varsity football coach Tim Simpson is president of this group. He expects this year’s ride on April 2 to be even bigger and encourages all riders interested in participating to join them on Facebook to stay informed.
Another big supporter is ROMEO of First Christian Church in Wildwood. These Retired Old Men are doing a lot more than Eating Out (hence. John Miller was at the event representing the group. They fund raise all year including hosting five golf tournaments.
“It is all for the kids. We contribute 99.6 percent of what we earn,” he said.
Miller also added that in addition to Project Legacy, they have given college scholarships to Wildwood and Leesburg seniors and sent more than 100 children to summer camp last year.
Brock said he is looking forward to the day that more than $100,000 per year is being handed out.
As more people become aware of the mission; more people want to help, he said.
“You are not just helping the child,” Brock said. “When you help a child you are impacting the family which in turns impacts the community. It is a real hand-and-glove situation between these children and residents of the surrounding communities.”
For more information on Project Legacy you can call (352) 267-2939 or (352) 406-1769. You can also visit their website: www.projectlegacy.net.