PANAMA CITY – If live country music from Caleb Daugherty’s group, a cornhole tournament, two fun races, a barbecue and a scavenger hunt will not draw you to McKenzie Park on Friday evenings and Saturdays to raise money for the Gulf Coast Children’s Defense Center, an organizer offers another item for your plate of consideration.
“The simple answer is that as a member of the CCA Board of Directors, I know exactly where the funds raised are going – right here for our children – and if you cannot support a cause that supports and helps children. who are the victims of crime, child abuse, neglect, so what cause can you support? ”said Jeremy Mathis, who, as a lieutenant in the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, sees first hand damage to children. “Every penny will stay right here in the 14th Judicial Circuit to help these children.”
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Attending the event to hear the music and watch the fun – and the all-important Payton Air BBQ contest which will judge 14 entrants from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – is free. Vendors will offer barbecues and other items for sale and anyone who fancies they have the right touch for a small cornhole can enter a team for $ 25 and a chance to win $ 250.
Event sponsors like Payton Air and Keefe & Sons have made sure everyone can enjoy the sounds of The Caleb Daugherty Band and Corey Keefe, based in Nashville, who will perform on Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and again Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. pm with the highway 167 strip.
The event and the need for fundraising is crucial for ACE Executive Director Lori Allen, who after 10 years in the role knows what it takes to make things work. She said there are two key factors behind the need for funding that turned into this weekend’s event.
“The past two years have been difficult for everyone due to the impact of Hurricane Michael and then the pandemic on top of everything that has led to the need for us to host a special event,” he said. Allen said. “This is one of the first big events that we’ve had, we’re bringing a group, because we need those unrestricted dollars to take care of many things in different areas.”
Allen said that while the CAC derives a large portion of its funding from court fees paid by offenders to offset the cost of assisting young victims, there are also significant government grants that require some sort of local correspondence. . A multi-million dollar grant he received, for example, requires a 25% local match. If this money is not collected, the grant is at risk and may not be received again.
And the importance of money from fundraising being “unrestricted” is critical to CCC services, as it covers items that cannot be purchased with funding specific to certain services provided by CCC.
“A lot of the funding is really limited; we need this money for things you might not think of, like we have kids who come in in the middle of the night and haven’t eaten in two days. . We’re going to get them something to eat before they have their checkup, and we have to pay for that, “Allen said.” There are also specialty items that aren’t covered, like we have times when people need glasses or children who go outside the home and people may not have beds for them yet. Even the kids… who want to play in a soccer league, but the parents at the camp can’t afford it.
“This allows us to cover all the needs of a child who is affected by abuse or sexual violence.”
These needs are great, said Mathis, and acknowledged by Sheriff Tommy Ford, who has ensured that his agency works closely with the CAC to bring the cases together while helping victims with as little fear as possible. The sheriff’s office, for example, has an investigator who works full time outside of the CAC.
“The CAC is a one-stop-shop. As cliché as it sounds, it really is what it is, a one-stop place where children can go to be questioned about the crime they are victims of, to be examined. medically and injuries documented by medical staff, and receive trauma treatment and therapy for the results of this act, all under one roof, “Mathis said.” This is the one constant in their lives throughout. the process, and having it all in one place has proven to be the best model nationally for the successful pursuit of this business.
Saturday’s events are aimed at families. Mathis said there was something for everyone, thanks to CAOT Volunteer Coordinator Shannon Rodriguez.
“Without Shannon this event will never take off,” Mathis said.
The weather seems clear but warm, and Mathis and Allen have said they are ready to welcome guests.
“If you don’t think you can cook a competitive barbecue, but think you’re good enough at cornhole, come on,” Mathis said. “You’ll be glad you did.