2020 is a tough year for fundraising, but the Oviedo Police Foundation is continuing its mission to give local cops the resources they need to keep us safe
Despite the interruptions caused by the coronavirus, the Oviedo Police Foundation (OPF) is riding a wave of good fortune, a welcome respite from a year full of challenges.
Now in its eighth year of supporting the Oviedo Police Department, the nonprofit foundation came out strong this year with two highly successful fundraisers before the COVID crisis set in – the Cops ‘n Cars for Kids Car Show in January and the seventh annual OPF Golf Tournament in March. Monies raised from those events supported an officer in need who had lost her spouse and helped the department purchase much-needed body armor for School Resource Officers. The foundation board is also working on the purchase of a new K-9 partner for Officer Joe Bologna to replace Kass, who was forced to retire in June after being diagnosed with hip dysplasia.
“Like most things in 2020, we started out strong and things have kind of fizzled,” says Jim Gordon, who has been at the helm of OPF since 2015.
Nevertheless, Jim is proud of the continued hours that board members and volunteers have put forth in 2020 to keep the pendulum swinging. Indeed, it’s the foundation’s resilience and tenacity that draws the attention of other municipalities.
“We are the only such police foundation in Seminole County, and other jurisdictions have reached out to ask us how it’s done,” says Jim, an attorney with Beers & Gordon, P.A. “It’s a great way to provide additional support for the police departments.”
Mayor Megan Sladek of Oviedo says the foundation’s success is based on its constant vigilance. It is always working in lockstep with the Oviedo Police Department, seeking out ways to better serve the community.
“From fundraising to getting another K-9 to boosting our officers’ morale behind the scenes, the Oviedo Police Foundation is always right there helping,” Mayor Sladek says. “I am so grateful for their support of our women and men in blue – and our whole community.”
Jim admits OPF got lucky with its annual golf tournament this year. It’s the group’s biggest moneymaker, and both the date and the 2020 title sponsor were perfect.
“This year’s tournament was March 6, just before everything was shut down,” says Jim.
And, he reports, it was the most successful tournament to date, in no small part because of the Blake Bortles Foundation, which sponsored the event and provided its star attraction. Blake is Oviedo’s most famous sports alum, having set the Seminole County record for passing yards while quarterbacking the Oviedo High Lions. Blake went on to star at UCF and was picked third overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2014 NFL Draft. Currently a free agent, Blake played in the OPF tournament with his dad, Rob.
“Blake not only played golf, but he hung around afterward and helped present the awards,” Jim says. “It was really cool.”
This year also marked the debut of OPF’s associate member program, the brainchild of board member Paul Rosarius, and it has already proven to be a game-changer.
“In the beginning, the foundation was just doing a couple of things for the community,” explains Paul, a four-year OPF veteran and co-owner of Palm Tree Tech Center. “Then we started doing more and more functions. There are only about a couple dozen of us on the board, and we can’t stretch ourselves too thin. That’s why I thought about bringing together a group of volunteers to help.”
The idea was an instant success. Paul, along with fellow board member Kelly Sue Stonebreaker, recruited 14 volunteers right off the bat. The group debuted its services in January at the Cops ‘n Cars for Kids event and, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, the newly formed crew devised a fundraiser to sell I Support the Oviedo Police Foundation stickers to area businesses.
Anyone interested in joining the new volunteer corps simply needs to get in touch with Paul (Paul@PalmTreeTechCenter.com) or Kelly Sue (HomesByKellySue@Gmail.com). The group of local citizens meets monthly – virtually, for now.
“They have been very helpful,” Paul says of the volunteers, adding that the crew will now allow OPF to be a bigger player at area events like the Taste of Oviedo when they resume. “We could use 30 to 40 of them.”
And while Jim hopes OPF will be able to hold its annual Bowling Tournament and K-9 Competition later this year, he understands such things are out of his control. Either way, he knows OPF members will continue to be there for the Oviedo Police Department and their families without missing a beat.
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