POWERBOAT RACERS TO PROVIDE A RIDE AND A SMILE IN KEY WEST
Final Stop on the 2002 Child Smile America Tour® to include
A Day At The Races for Florida Keys Children's Shelter
Key West, FL - - It's been a fast lane year for powerboat racing dentists, Dr. Gerardo Santiago and teammate Dr. Enrique Ochoa. Not only have they jumped into the APBA Offshore Powerboat Racing Circuit this year with last minute back to back wins, but the Naples, Florida based team will now head to Key West to compete in the upcoming Key West Offshore World Championships the week of November 18th - 20th, 2002. Unlike many of the other competitors, however, this team will do much more than race for a trophy, they will be providing rides for kids from the Florida Keys Children's Shelter as the final stop on the 2002 Child SMILE America Tour ®.
The Child SMILE America Tour ® in cooperation with Dr. Santiago's "Ride of a Lifetime", was designed by Michelle May - Schmidt, President of the Motorsports Division of the H2O Performance Marketing Group. The tour was formed to allow premiere race teams to contribute to children's charities in communities that host race and poker run events. Dr. Santiago, in particular, has donated rides on the tour to the Make-A-Wish® Foundation of North Georgia & Alabama, the Forsyth County Child Advocacy Center, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Sarasota Suncoast Foundation for the Handicapped, the Winn Dixie Hope Lodge and Kids In Distress.
"The goal is to give back to the community and make the day in the life of a distressed child all the more enjoyable. Our racers have a lot of heart and that always shines through. When we get the smile, we know we have touched their lives in a way no one else can," said Schmidt.
The 2002 Child SMILE America Tour® in Key West was made possible due to contributions from the teams, the APBA Offshore organization and the Key West Offshore World Championships Organization. "I am very proud to assist with the Tour and bring the kids from the Florida Keys Children's Shelter to our event. I know the kids will really enjoy the powerboat racing action off the Truman Annex not to mention meeting all the teams. We are always interested in giving back to the community we hold our events in and especially glad that we can make it possible for the kids to enjoy "A Day At The Races," said Lee Mills. Mills serves as the Executive Director of the APBA Offshore World Championships in Key West as well as the Marathon Offshore Gran Prix, held in May every year.
Youths from the Florida Keys Children's Shelter will receive rides in Dr. Santiago's world famous electric blue and neon green "Zero Cavity" Bat Boat, as well as jump aboard Barkley Geib's 38' Formula Fas Tech called PokerRun.com. New to the lineup will be Todd Wharton and Mark LaFleur in the 43' Catamaran, El Diablo. Their four-seat canopied raceboat boasts speeds in excess of 140+ miles per hour. Both teams, however, have a little work to do before the rides, like winning the races.
"Dr. Ochoa and I will be racing in the Performance Class on Saturday and we have two victories we are planning on in Key West. The first is the race, the next is making winners out of the kids who will be able to get behind the wheel of our boat for a spin out on the water. That's the real Victory Lane," said Santiago. Wharton and LaFleur are also hopeful for a win - win in Key West. While this will be their first time racing together in the Performance PX class, the fastest class in the fleet of Saturday races, it will also be their first as part of the tour. "Mark and I are looking forward to giving the kids a spin and a grin that they will remember for a long, long time," said Wharton, owner and throttleman for the Competitive Edge Marine based team.
Geib will be busy as well, overseeing the Key West race event on the course, as an Official Paceboat for the races on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday of Race Week. He is also the organizer of the Worlds Largest Poker Run every August off Lake Lanier Islands, Georgia; an event that also hosts the Child SMILE America Tour®. "My part of the tour is to take the kids out on the course and explain how the racing works. They seem to really enjoy learning more about the sport from the operations angle so they go home with boating knowledge and some great memories. That's what it's all about… the little people," said Geib, who will also have T-Shirts and Souvenirs for the riders.
The Florida Keys Children's Shelter (FKCS) has been serving at-risk children and their families in Monroe County, the Florida Keys, since 1989 and is committed to rebuilding lives, building futures and reuniting families. Their six-bed emergency home in Key West provides assistance for younger children, infants through age 10, while the Tavernier location serves the needs of children aged 10 -17. Between 150 and 200 youths per year spend time at the shelters with another 250 - 300 being helped through the FKCS community based counseling programs. The FKCS will be opening a second residential program in Key West with the addition of another six-bed group home for children and young adults who have not been able to find appropriate placement in the foster care system.
"Life has been pretty tough for some of our kids and when this opportunity came along out of the blue, it was a breath of fresh air for the kids. They are really excited about spending "A Day At The Races" and are looking forward to meeting the teams and seeing the boats. You can only imagine how excited they are to know they will also be getting rides in the boats. We know why they call it the Child SMILE program," said Bill Mann of the Florida Keys Children's Shelter. "We really appreciative the generosity provided by H2O Performance, the Race Teams, APBA Offshore and the Key West Offshore World Championships for providing the kids with such a great experience. It will be something they will keep with them forever."
Special thanks go to sponsors of Dr. Santiago's Zero Cavity Team, including McManus Superboats, Doller Offshore Marine, Throttle-Up Propellers, Gaffrig by Livorsi and Children's Dentisty of Naples. Barkley Geib and his PokerRun.com team is sponsored by the Formula Racing Team and the Lanier Harbor Marina. Wharton and the El Diablo Team is sponsored by Competitive EDGE Marine. The Key West Tour is sponsored by H2O Performance.com, the H2O Performance Offshore Racing Review, the APBA Offshore Organization and the Key West Offshore World Championships.
For more information on the APBA Offshore and the Key West World Championships including schedules and ticket information visit www.apbaoffshore. For more information on the Child SMILE America Tour® contact Michelle May - Schmidt, Tel/Fax: 954-796-9226 or email: [email protected]. For information on the Florida Keys Children's Shelter or to make a donation, call 1-305-852-4246.
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