Instead of the wet stuff falling to the ground right now, golf balls will be falling to the floor of Estes Stadium on Nov. 7 to raise money for Independent Living Series. Bobby Kelly, director of development at Independent Living Services, said the fifth annual Golf Ball Drop is the main fundraiser for the organization.
"All the money raised is used specifically for transportation," Kelly said.
The money will be used as a 20 percent match for two grants given to ILS by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. One grant will be used to purchase a bus to transport the ILS consumers to work at Conway Sanitation Department and Profiles Productions. The second grant will be used to purchase a larger bus to transport consumers from the Greenbrier area to Conway for shopping and other needs.
The area has been served by a 14-passenger bus that Kelly said was at capacity and did not allow for growth in the Greenbrier area.
The organization currently has 33 vehicles in its fleet.
"We can’t guarantee true independence without transportation," Kelly said. "There is nothing independent about staying at home when you need to go out and do things."
The fundraising goal for the Golf Ball Drop is $25,000, although Kelly is unsure if that goal will be achieved.
"Donations are down," Kelly said, noting that all funds raised through this project will benefit people in Faulkner County.
Prices are $10 for one ball, $25 for three balls, $50 for seven balls and $100 for 20 balls. The prize for the ball that gets closest to the hole is $2,009.
Balls can be purchased on the ILS Web site, www.indliving.org ,or on the day of the event at tailgating spot 46 or the UCA practice field.
"It will help people get jobs, live an independent lifestyle and be as independent as possible. It is what we do here," Kelly said.
One of the consumers who has benefitted from the services at ILS is Julie Smith, who created the art that has been used as a graphic for the fifth annual event.
"It is an abstract of balls as they drop through the air," Kelly said. "Julie spent a lot of time on that. She was real proud of it."
Kelly said that although last year the event was held at the University of Central Arkansas, this was the first year that the event has been planned at the school.
"We will be dropping balls from the sky," Kelly said.
The ball drop will be held in the north end zone at 4:45 during UCA pre-game activities from a scissor lift.
"It should be visible from the street," Kelly said.
During the past four years, Kelly said the event has raised more than $50,000.
"We use the money for the same thing each year," Kelly said, noting that over the past few years ILS has experienced tremendous growth. He said approximately 200 consumers are being served which is a 10 percent increase over last year.
Kelly said that although some commercials may advertise the event as being a the practice field, it is, in fact, at Estes Stadium.
Kelly said the organization was lucky to have partnered with UCA for the event. He credited Matt Jordan and Brad Teague with UCA for helping integrate the program into the pre-game program.
"They have been extremely cooperative. I feel blessed to have met both of them," Kelly said.