The Fonda-Fultonville Booster Club has been doggedly raising donations for modified sports ever since they were cut from the 2012-13 school budget.
The community has pulled together and thousands of dollars have been raised. But at the next fundraiser, locals won’t be asked to open their wallets.
From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 10 shiny new Fords will be available for test drives in the high school parking lot, courtesy of Brown’s Ford of Johnstown.
For each test drive, the Ford Motor Company will donate $20 to the modified sports program.
“This is what we call a win, win, win, win,” said dealership owner Jeff Brown. “Ford gets people in their cars. We get to talk to people about cars. People get to drive cars without being pressured to buy and the school gets a bunch of money for sports.”
So far the Booster Club has exceeded its expectations, raising in just a month the $10,000 necessary to run fall modified football.
“The community has really stepped up,” said club President Missy Furman, adding that the club already has $10,500 toward the $13,600 needed to fund winter modified wrestling and basketball.
They’ve sent out alumni mailings, asked local businesses for donations, and held three car washes and a chicken dinner. Furman said Saturday’s event should finish the winter sports funding and start on the $16,500 it will take to run modified baseball, softball and track in the spring.
Ford will donate up to $6,000, which requires 300 willing test drivers.
“Saturday is also our homecoming game, which usually draws a crowd,” Furman said. “So that will improve our numbers.”
This year, the club has stayed ahead of the modified sports needs. The question now is how long they will be able to continue.
Acting Fonda-Fultonville Superintendent Patrick Michel said that while modified sports are a good thing and he’s glad the Booster Club took over their funding, it’s not likely the program will ever again be funded by the school.
“They’ll have to do the same thing every year,” he said.
Furman said the club is ready.
“We want our kids to have the same opportunities to play sports as any other school,” she said, adding that without a chance to learn basic skills in modified sports, her son William, currently playing school-funded JV football, would not be the player he is.
Brown said the 10 cars will represent much of the Ford lineup, from the Focus to the F150 to the newest Mustang, “which is very popular with the young people.”
A course will be set up along back roads around the village. Drivers must fill out a waiver before driving and a survey afterward.
“This isn’t a moral quandary,” Michel said. “It’s a way for a local business to donate a substantial amount to a good cause while still showing off their product to people who want to see it.”