WOODHAVEN, Mich. - Kids from the Penrickton Center for Blind Children are just like any kids – they love to go on field trips and need to learn how to navigate their way through a complicated world.
But when they do venture out, Woodhaven Stamping Plant (WSP) team members can be proud to know they helped make it a safe reality.
In April, the WSP -sponsored FrostBite Open Charity Golf Tournament officially broke the $500,000 mark in donations to the Penrickton Center. Since 1998, WSP has sponsored the fundraising event.
The donations directly helped to fund a customized Ford mini-bus to be used for the children’s fieldtrips and the creation of dance and movement therapy to help the children gain a better special awareness.
“Thanks to the donation of the FrostBite Open, the special children we serve have made great progress,” said Kurt Sebaly, director, Penrickton Center. “The mini-bus was designed from the ground-up for our needs and it is, of course, a Ford. I’m always grateful and impressed with how the men and women of Woodhaven Stamping Plant are able to help.”
The Penrickton Center for Blind Children, located in Taylor, Mich., is a multi-faceted non-profit agency that provides an assortment of care to blind and multi-disabled children with no charge to the families in need. Sebaly said Penrickton operates 100 percent private donations, making WSP a vital component to the organization.
When WSP welder repairmen Mike Kerekes and Dennis King – who is now retired – founded a modest charity golf tournament in 1998, Kerekes never thought it would grow to the size it is today.
“It started with eight guys going golfing in the spring. We first gave Penrickton $5,500 in a coffee can,” Kerekes said. “This year we had about 350 people, a combination of WSP and other Ford plants, come out to play golf and we collected more than $40,000.”
The 2013 event, Kerekes said, was held at Fox Hills Golf and Banquet Center in Plymouth., Mich. Teams of four could sign up for $600 per team for an 18-hole game complete with a golf cart.
The donations are a combination of the golf event and two smaller WSP raffles for employees to win a closer, reserved parking space at the plant.
“I would just like to thank all the hourly and salary folks at WSP because they’re really the ones who made this what it is today,” Kerekes said. “If you’re blessed with good health and a good job, it only makes sense to me to pay it forward. I’m just happy that I can help.”
While hitting the half-million mark of donations in just 16 years is something Kerekes is very much happy with, he hopes to raise the bar in the next few years.
“I would really, really love to see us hit $1 million before I retire in 2020,” he said. “There’s a big possibility we’ll be partnering with other Ford facilities to co-sponsor the FrostBite Open next year and I’m confident we can continue to help the boys and girls of the Penrickton Center.”
For more information about the FrostBite Open, visit frostbiteopen.com. To learn more about the Penrickton Center for Blind Children, visit penrickton.com.
The custom Ford mini-bus was purchased largely with funds raised by the WSP-sponsored FrostBite Open Golf Tournament. Photo courtesy of the Penrickton Center.