Fathers & Flashlights Raises $47,500 For West U. Parks (with slideshow)
Fathers & Flashlights, the annual overnight urban campout sponsored by and benefiting the Friends of West University Place Parks Fund, Inc., brought together more than 600 dads and children this year. Campers included 225 Dads and 378 Children. Additionally, more than 225 volunteer moms assisted prior to and during the event.
Through corporate sponsorships and registrations fees, the event generated an estimated $47,500 for the Friends of West University Place Parks Fund, Inc. The committee is in the process of determining net proceeds although direct expenses were kept to a minimum, thanks to the efforts of co-chairs Daryl Hoover and Jennifer Gatto who helped secure more than $5,000 in-kind donations.
“West U parks and playgrounds are family-oriented by design,” said Joni Hruska Fichter, Friends’ board chair. “The campout really got at the heart of the social benefits provided by our neighborhood parks and will grant needed funds for their continued renovation and improvements, as such initiatives are not covered by tax dollars.”
The campout was held at the West U Little League and Tri-Sports fields, adjacent to West U. Elementary, for residents zoned to or who attend West University Elementary.
“When we brought this event to West U. last year, our hopes were to help promote West U. dads and their kids while also raise money for our beautiful parks. Now, with the conclusion of our second annual event, we believe that Fathers & Flashlights has taken on a life of its own and will continue to grow in West U. as a permanent tradition. Our deepest thanks to all the generous sponsors and volunteers who helped make this year’s event so special again,” said co-chair Hoover.
The evening included tie-dyed t-shirts, rock climbing wall, safety center, moonwalks, face painting, potato sack races, and a special surprise of eggs and goodies hidden in camper tents. Some children got to experience what it was like “behind the wheel” of a police car and take a tour through the West University fire truck. A buffet-style dinner included Holmes Smokehouse Sausage, Chick-Fil-A- Holcombe, and Prince’s Hamburgers and was preceded by the highlight of the night – S ‘mores.
Robert Hartye played the guitar and sang classic favorites. As night approached, campers gathered around the stage for campfire songs provided by Rachel Buchman & Friends. Members from the Houston Astronomical Society set up telescopes and offered stargazing and views of the moon and Jupiter.
“I’m so proud that I was an integral part in the founding of the Fathers & Flashlights event and being the co-chair for a second annual success,” says co-chair Gatto. “We continue to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from the volunteering moms, the dads and the kids who participated. My two sons now look forward to Fathers & Flashlights like it’s a major holiday, and I hope this enthusiasm is eventually felt by all of our community’s children.”