STUART — Dozens of Martin County High School students and other area volunteers will join forces early Saturday at Flagler Park in downtown Stuart to raise funds for South Floridians diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Called The Walk For Taylor, the event is named after 5-year-old Taylor Weinstein, the custodial sister of Martin High senior Michelle Ostbye of Palm City. Ostbye, 18, got the idea for the fundraiser after Taylor, who’s actually a distant cousin, came to live with her family in September.
“This little girl has influenced my life in so many ways in a short period of time,” she said. “She’s so much fun all the time. For a 5-year-old who’s gone through so much, she’s the happiest thing ever.”
Because she had never planned a fundraising event before, Ostbye contacted United Cerebral Palsy of South Florida for advice. She then began calling local businesses for sponsorships and recruiting fellow students to take part in The Walk For Taylor.
She now has more than a dozen sponsors lined up to provide the event T-shirts and feed the more than 75 walkers expected to participate April 10.
“So far, I have raised a little over $2,000,” she said. “Each person pays $20 to sign up and walk, and I have a few other anonymous people who gave me generous donations.”
Jessi Smith, the UCP of South Florida’s community relations coordinator, said she gave Ostbye some pointers and obtained the event insurance, but emphasized the local high school senior did everything else on her own.
“Michelle took on the project wholeheartedly,” she said. “She is the driving force in getting this going.”
A Stuart native and former Martin County High School student, Smith says The Walk For Taylor will be the organization’s first fundraiser in her hometown. She and several Palm Beach County volunteers also plan to participate.
“It will actually benefit UCP of Palm Beach and the mid-coast counties,” she said.
In addition to the students registered to walk, the Martin County High School Class of 2010 and Student Government Association are also helping to sponsor the fundraiser. There is a long list of corporate sponsorships providing food and other services for participants. Ostbye also has recruited the local band, The Chaise, to perform for the crowd during the event.
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