By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - Shielding children from the scorching hot Florida sun in the summertime may seem like a superhuman task, but it's just the challenge for some local supermoms.
Last week, State Farm Insurance representatives awarded a $25,000 check to the Buggy Bunch for their proposal to bring shade covers to local playgrounds in Vero Beach as part of the State Farm "Cause an Effect" grant program.
Rain and overcast skies provided some sun protection during the check presentation and festivities in Humiston Park in Vero Beach on June 7, but grey clouds didn't stop the Buggy Bunch members' celebration.
Dozens of children bounced in a bounce house, explored a fire truck, took a ride in a tram, snacked on sweets by Classy Cupcakes and played on the playground during the event, while moms and dads watched them and chatted.
The Buggy Bunch is the fastest growing nonprofit mom's group on the Treasure Coast with more than 1,500 members. The mission of the group is for moms to meet one another for fun, fellowship, fitness and friendship.
Sharing their faith in Jesus Christ is the tie that binds them altogether, said Shantarra Houston, public relations manager.
The "Good Neighbor, Good Shade" grant proposal by the Buggy Bunch was one of 3,000 submissions State Farm received. It was chosen as a top 100 cause and in a three-week period received more than 20,000 online votes to get one of four nationwide $25,000 grants.
Jennifer Robinson said getting out the vote was a daily pattern for so many members of The Buggy Bunch.
"We all voted like crazy and were begging our Facebook friends to vote, too," Ms. Robinson.
She is excited about having the shade covers for play group meet ups.
"The playgrounds here are great, but the slides and equipment in general are so hot, so you're left with going early, which is difficult with small children or leave before the kids are ready to leave," she said.
The group is working with the Vero Beach recreation department to decide where the first shade cover will be installed.
Humiston Park and Troy Moody Park are the top two choices, said Rob Slezak, recreation director.
Mark Sartain, from Kimley-Horn and Associates, is volunteering his time to studying the engineering issues and reviewing the manufacturing companies who carry the shade products. He hopes to have one shade covering installed by early 2013.
His wife, Kelly Sartain, is the executive director and co-founder of the Buggy Bunch. Mrs. Sartain said the next step for the Buggy Bunch is a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $25,000 for shade on a second park and some donations have already been pledged.
"I specifically would like to thank the Indian River Skin and Cancer Center, as well as the Florida Eye Institute for their generous donations," Mrs. Sartain said in a press release.
Kelly Modesitt, a local State Farm agent and member of the Buggy Bunch, brought the grant program to the attention to the nonprofit's attention earlier this year.
"It's very exciting and we've received so much support from the city," Ms. Modesitt said.
For more information about The Buggy Bunch, call (855) 352-8449 or visit www.thebuggybunch.com.