Golfers needed for tournament that benefits Fort Mill special needs students

mharrison@fortmilltimes.comApril 17, 2013 

— For some people, an iPad is a convenient way to watch movies. For others, it’s a lifeline.

The popular tablet devises are actually on the low end of the technology scale for Fort Mill Special Services students who have difficulty communicating.

Heather Britton, a speech pathologist at Riverview Elementary School, said across the Fort Mill School District, Special Services students’ needs for technology exceeds the budget, so for the second consecutive year, teachers and volunteers are holding a golf outing fundraiser. This year’s event is Friday, April 26, at the Tega Cay Golf Club.

The 1 p.m. shotgun start will have golfers teeing off with Special Olympics champion Scott Rohrer of York. Rohrer, who didn’t allow challenges from autism to get in the way of his game, has been featured in Fort Mill Times reporter John Marks’ On Your Marks column.

The tournament will be followed by dinner in the outdoor pavilion. The event’s emcee is Fort Mill’s Patty Mercer, a well known radio host, pageant winner and judge, education supporter and autism awareness advocate. She will preside over day-long raffles and auctions.

It’s a fun-filled day ahead, but there is a glitch:

“We desperately need players and we could use more sponsors,” Britton said.

Last year’s tournament netted $10,000 after expenses and Britton said as much as that helps, it’s not nearly enough.

“Some of the technology costs a couple of hundred dollars, but some things cost as much as $8,000,” Britton said.

“That’s why we’re trying to raise awareness. All of the Money goes to support Special Services and assisted technology is now so up and coming and has many wonderful opportunities for students to enhance their communication needs and access their curriculum, but also their overall functional communication with active, daily living and peer interaction” she said.

“We as educators, our goal is to help with [students’] overall communication, but sometimes we’re talking about being able to communicate their basic wants and needs.”

This fundraiser also benefits the High Five Club at the Adult Enrichment Center in Fort Mill. The club is made up of intellectually challenged adults. Britton, who helped raise money for the Foundation for Fort Mill Schools when she was part of the annual Beta Sigma Phi charity golf tournament, and parent volunteer Cynthia Preusser last year came up with the idea for a golf outing to aid the Special Needs Department and High Five.

Britton singled out Preusser and parent volunteers Tim Newman and Melanie Jacobs as “wonderful people who have helped us in so many ways and just go over and beyond the call of duty.”

Everyone involved with the programs and the fundraiser have adopted a new motto credited to the late Audrey Hepburn – “Nothing is impossible and the word itself says, ‘I’m possible.’”

“Even though people are present with disabilities, they are still very capable of fully participating in activities we all enjoy – like golf,” Britton said.

To register for the tournament, become a sponsor or get more information, go to fort-mill.k12.sc.us or adultenrichmentcenters.org.

To read more about Scott Rohrer, click here.

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