It’s AMBUCS Bowlapalooza time! And hosting a fundraiser for AMBUCS at Stafford’s Public House on Thursday, Sept. 22 is bowling celebrity Vernon Donovan. The State Farm agent is looking dapper while chatting with his work family, Catherine Eaton, Kelly Zampieri and Lacey Helton as they wait for guests to arrive.
As one of the 26 Celebrity Bowlers in the 11th Annual Bowlapalooza, I ask Vernon how he managed to find time to volunteer for this annual event. “You know how much I love spending time with my fellow veterans at American Legion Post 500 and that I volunteered for past two years as a physical education teacher at Ramah Junior Academy but I could not say no to Kevin Sheehan when he showed me a video of a little girl getting to ride a Tryke for the first time,” shares the proud dad of 7 year old son, Landon.
Y’all it’s hot out here but I can’t walk away because Mister AMBUCS himself, Kevin Sheehan is walking up. Involved in AMBUCS for 24 years with a stint as their National President in 2017, Kevin has taken Savannah AMBUCS to a level of visibility that most non-profits only dream of. Amped up over the possibility of passing his total of $176,000 last year, Kevin tells me that he thinks they can beat their $200,000 goal this year. If anyone can do it, Kevin and his fellow AMBUCS can!
Arriving next is Houston, TX native and Morris Roofing owner, Richard Morris and his wife Lisa. While Richard gives Vernon a hug, he tells me that he and Vernon are BNI brothers then waves over BNI sister Atia Washington Miller. As the Purest Touch Spa owner chats with about the country life growing up in Tom Fripp community of St. Helena Island SC and her love of travel, my ears perk up when I realize she has a mobile massage spa!
Zooming past us and making a u-turn is the magnificent Sandi Prosnitz. Sometimes you adore someone from the second you meet them, and Sandi is that someone for me. Originally from Rhode Island, Sandi drove south three years ago to escape the snow and admits to loving “everything” about Savannah. “Unlike the northeast, there is such a sense of community here, especially for nonprofits. Savannah has such a give back culture,” shares the LoGo Goods owner.
Giggling when Sandi tells me that her secret talent is crocheting pot holders, we watch a dude walk up and put a smooch on Catherine Eaton. Meet Little Rock, AR native and real estate agent Keith Royal. Humming “Ice Ice Baby” and sharing his love of some 90s rap music, Keith admits to some serious love of golfing, sipping spirits and DIY projects.
Arriving next, Charlotte, NC native Courtney Hudson poses with politics, beach, and Georgia Southern University lover James Hall. Nine Line Apparel’s gorgeous Nisha Guistino, Sally Rejas and Kathleen Rine strike a pose with a “Jake from State Farm” cutout, and Jermaine Kicklighter flexes for a pic with Vernon before heading inside to set up his deejay equipment.
Making our way down to Brian Stafford’s Factor’s Walk bar, I ask if Brian is here or in the Bahamas. Wanting to commend him for offering up his drinkery for Vernon’s fundraiser tonight, I head down a long entry-way and turn into a spacious open room where some snacks are waiting for me. Sliding up next to me is the long-last-seen Michelle Alvarado. Hugging the New York Life beauty, I am reminded that she took a break from the summer social scene but is now back out on the town!
With more guests arriving (and knowing I need to leave early) I ask Vernon to grab everyone together for a group pic before they pull out a birthday cake to celebrate his 40th birthday. While snapping pics of Vernon and his bestie, Phoenix Capers, I wave Kevin over for an update on AMBUCS.
Still devoted to the mission of providing people challenged with mobility and independence, Kevin tells me, “Money raised tonight is going towards giving away Trykes, building a fully accessible playground at AMBUCS Park on Sallie Mood to scholarships for therapy students, AND 100 percent of the money we raise stays here!”
And if you haven’t seen a child, adult or veteran who can’t ride a traditional bike jump on one of these three-wheeled adapted bikes, you need to. It is one of the most jubilant experiences, and will help you understand why people like Vernon Davis sign up to support AMBUCS!