Mentors and sponsors needed for annual event
By Tammy Roberts
Larry Lawton believes positive life experiences are key to encouraging children to make smart decisions.
"These types of activities are designed to open the eyes of kids to do something different," said Mr. Lawton, founder of the Reality Check Program and Foundation. "It shows them that fun can be had without getting into trouble."
This logic is the basis for the Reality Check Foundation Golf Outing, scheduled for Aug. 21 at Viera East Golf Club.
The third annual event will partner youth ages 11-18 with mentors from throughout the community for a day of golf, games and healthy competition.
"No golf experience is necessary," Mr. Lawton said. "It's meant to be fun and expose kids to an activity they may not have tried otherwise."
The event will feature a nine-hole best-ball scramble, 45-minute karate demonstration, putting contest, longest drive contest and closest-to-the-pin contest with Viera East Golf professional Jeff Turner kicking off the outing with a free golf clinic.
Producers from "The Healing Today Show" on the Christian Television Network, as well as Los Angeles-based Cheri Sundae Productions, which is producing a Reality Check TV series, will also be filming during the event.
Throughout the day, participants will partner with adult mentors, ranging from community judges and police officers to business professionals and attorneys.
As of press time, there were 21 mentors and 63 children registered for the event, but space was still available.
Mr. Lawton will also give a 20-minute inspirational speech and visit with each group throughout the day. The event will end with a banquet and awards ceremony, where every participant will earn a prize.
Mr. Lawton, who served 12 years in prison for racketeering, created Reality Check as a way to inspire youth and young adults to make the right choices by providing an up-close glimpse into prison life and the reality of making poor decisions.
In the past four years, Mr. Lawton, a Palm Bay resident, has received hundreds of letters and e-mails from teens and parents who have experienced a noticeable change as a result of the program.
"I don't sugarcoat things for these kids; I get down on their level and tell it to them straight," Mr. Lawton said. "I show them that I've been exactly where they've been, and the road they're taking will not get them far."
In addition to hosting the program on a regular basis, Mr. Lawton is always looking for new opportunities for children to succeed.
"This idea for the golf outing is the first of its kind because it brings good kids and kids who have made bad decisions together at one time," Mr. Lawton said. "The ones who have been headed down the wrong path will be able to talk with those who've made positive choices, while the good kids will see how good they really have it."
By spending the day with these various mentors, Mr. Lawton said it also shows these types of leaders in a positive light, as someone they can relate to, not fear.
A retired businessman, Joe Fraumeni of Melbourne has volunteered to be a mentor during the outing for the past three years.
"The good thing about golf is that you really get to spend a lot of time with the kids - sometimes it takes a while for them to open up," Mr. Fraumeni said. "It's important to tell them that we all have problems and issues, but it's about how they handle them. It's really an eye-opener for everyone there. I get as much out of it as the kids do."
Mr. Lawton said the event is not designed to be strict and competitive, but rather an opportunity for children to have fun in a safe environment.
"When you see a kid who can't even hold a golf club at first, then going out there and improving on each hole, it starts to build up their self-confidence and assurance," he said. "Everyone leaves that course feeling positive."
The Reality Check Foundation Golf Outing will be Saturday, Aug. 21 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Viera East Golf Club, 2300 Clubhouse Drive, Viera.
Business or individual sponsorships are needed for the outing, as there is no cost to the children or mentors. The cost to sponsor a child for the event is $100.
To become a participant, mentor or sponsor, contact the Reality Check Program at (321) 327-2921 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.realitycheckprogram.org.