The sunset over Lake Weir at local philanthropist and Community President of CenterState Bank Tom Ingram’s home painted the sky brick red on a recent evening. Attired in their best Florida casual wear, celebrants clustered barefoot on the beach in small groups discussing how they could help children in need. Tom Ingram and his guests, at his second fundraiser in as many years for abused and neglected children, share a passion for helping Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection. Funds raised at last year’s event enabled Kimberly’s Center to serve approximately 1,200 children in Marion County who were victims of child abuse, neglect or some other type of emotional trauma. Over $30,000 was raised this year.
By all accounts, Tom’s private fundraiser was over the top. Highlights included Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham making a grand entrance by parachuting from a small plane into the party. The entertainment was most remarkable and included a water skiing display by the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team. Their expertise was such that is usually only seen on national television sports competitions. Scrumptious food was catered by Eaton’s Beach. Polynesian dancers from Orlando in sarongs and grass skirts added further to the exotic party air.
Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection shared their mission with all in attendance.
Executive Director Dawn Westgate stated, “The passion of Tom Ingram to help children heal from abuse and neglect is inspiring. Our hope is that events like this can serve as a call to action for our entire community.”
Tom added, “Recently, I had the opportunity to witness the mission and scope of services provided to our community’s children in need during a tour of Kimberly’s Center. Seeing this really moved me, and I feel more connected than ever. I am certain that I can help these innocent children and support the staff in their effort to protect and help kids heal. These children have experienced so much hurt, and if I can play a small part in helping them, then I am all in. I would strongly encourage anyone to schedule a tour of Kimberly’s Center. You will walk away with a clear understanding of how the team serves children all the while being truly inspired.”
Ocala Police Chief and Kimberly’s Center board member Greg Graham emphasized, “I have witnessed first-hand the unspeakable circumstances that lead to a child being taken to Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection. Our community’s approach is both compassionate and effective. When healing is initiated and children are empowered, then they can become the best of our society.”
Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection is a not-for-profit organization that has saved our community’s abused and neglected children since 1966. But they cannot do it alone. They need your help to ensure that our community’s smallest victims of the emotional trauma of child abuse are cared for and healed in a safe, child-friendly environment. Please take a moment and make a donation by visiting kimberlyscenter.org or calling (352) 873-4739.