By Jay Meisel
MARTIN COUNTY - For decades, Martin County Sheriff Robert L. Crowder and his wife, Debbie, have supported the Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranches program.
To recognize that support, another long-term benefactor of the program from Martin County has started the Bob and Debbie Crowder appreciation fund to help troubled youth in Martin County.
"With his upcoming retirement, I thought it would be nice to name something in appreciation of both of them for what they've done for the youth ranch program," said John T. Pratt, who started the fund along with his wife, Janey.
Mr. Pratt said the fund will pay for troubled youth to attend the summer camp of the youth ranch program.
He hopes others will donate to the endowment fund and that interest from it will help more youth.
"We view it as seed money," he said.
He said he and his wife have supported the youth ranch program for more than 10 years.
Colleen Lockwood, a spokeswoman for the youth ranch program, said Sheriff Crowder and his wife deserve to have a fund named after them.
During the past few years, Sheriff Crowder has helped raise thousands to support the program, Ms. Lockwood said.
Besides that, he's served on the board of directors, she said.
"He deserves the accolades," she said.
Ms. Lockwood said Mrs. Crowder has also raised about $58,000 for the ranch program.
She said Mrs. Crowder has hiked the Appalachians in segments and sought sponsors, with the money going to the youth ranch program.
Those seeking more information about the youth ranch program or contact information for making a donation can go to www.youthranches.org.