By Susan Bromley
.- Gear up for a good time and a great cause.
A 2017 Daytona 500 fundraiser to benefit O.A.T.S. (Offering Alternative Therapy with Smiles) is planned for noon-5 p.m., Feb. 26 at Bullfrogs, 2225 S. Ortonville Road. Tell your server you are there on behalf of O.A.T.S. and 20 percent of your food bill will be donated to the non-profit organization that provides horseback riding therapy for children and adults with special needs.
“The fundraiser goes into our general fund to help feed the horses, because that is our biggest cost,” said Beth Pellerito, O.A.T.S. executive director. “Those attending the fundraiser feed themselves and we feed the horses.”
This year’s annual fundraiser, which features silent auction items and basket raffles while attendees dine and watch the Daytona 500 on big screens, will also help support a new program at O.A.T.S.— Farm-Ability.
The program, which starts in the spring, will feature hands-on farming for children and young adults enrolled in O.A.T.S. Volunteers will help instruct in gardening and animal care.
Pellerito learned this week that O.A.T.S. will receive a grant from the Autism Society of Michigan for $10,000 and she will use that money as well as the money from the fundraiser to establish gardens. Monday will also be used for chickens to put in a chicken coop recently built at the farm located at 3090 Weidemann Drive. Pellerito is excited about the opportunities that will be afforded for those who come to O.A.T.S. for weekly therapy.
“The whole idea is to get individuals from three and up with special needs to take care of chickens, goats, pigs, and horses,” she said. “We are going to plant flowers, herbs, and then harvest all this and we will have a produce stand here and one at the farmer’s market. This can be job training and they will learn a lot of skills.”
Pellerito hopes to draw in the schools as she gives participants new objectives and offers a new avenue for volunteers to help. She also is planning a design contest for T-shirts for the program.
To learn more about O.A.T.S., the Daytona 500 fundraiser, or how you can volunteer or enroll a student with special needs in the program, visit www.oatshrh.org or call 248-620-1775.