Leon High School Foundation gets into fundraising swing with Spring Fling – Tallahassee Democrat

On Wednesday, April 6, the Capital City Country Club played host to the Leon High School Foundation’s annual Spring Fling fundraiser. The threatening weather didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the more than 200 supporters in attendance.
They welcomed the opportunity to enjoy the reunion-like atmosphere at the once again in-person event after a 2-year hiatus due to the covid pandemic. With background music provided by ensembles from Leon’s steel drum and jazz bands, participants gathered at tables festooned with Leon-themed decorations, or easily mingled in- and outside the clubhouse, to re-connect with friends and ex-classmates.
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When the dinner bell rang everyone made time to enjoy the delicious meal, featuring grilled steak and chicken catered by Outback.
The opportunity to bid on silent auction items has been an exciting part of every Fling, and this year’s was no exception. Silent Auction coordinators Lori Crowe and Sara Barber were pleased to see the smiling faces of all those who topped the bid sheets. At the end of the evening high bidders went home with a wide variety of items.
The action on the putting green was entertaining and intense as usual. It was crowded with those watching the main event, supervised by Danny Manausa: a chance for one lucky putter to make a cool $2,500 by skillfully sinking a 50-foot putt.
With some using their personal putters, some engaging their special mojo, and others quietly trying to will the ball into the hole, several dozen folks made a try to qualify for the big-money putt, with Don Campbell and Chris Lyon in a putt-off for the final attempt. Though even heftier payoffs have been pocketed by ticket-holders at two previous Spring Flings, there was no big winner this year.
As for another eagerly-anticipated, after-the-fact facet of Spring Fling, former Board member Andy Fink was rewarded with his share of the earnings from the Masters Board, organized by Erik Kirk. Its numerical selections are paired with the pros vying for glory at  Augusta National that began the day after the Fling. Andy’s chosen number was, fortunate for him, attached to Scottie Scheffler, who donned the green jacket with his victory at The Masters the following Sunday.
Midway through the event, special recognition was given to retired board member Charley Redding. A 1971 Leon grad, Charley was a 17-year member of the Board and served as its Chairman for 2 years. Recent Foundation Chairman Danny Manausa presented Charley with a commemorative plaque for “his extraordinary dedication and commitment to Leon and the Foundation” for so many years.
As Chairman he was instrumental in organizing and leading past Spring Flings, and in formalizing the Foundation’s role in its oversight of a number of scholarships it had been asked to administer. He was also the prime mover in the multi-year effort to put in place the graceful arch that spans the Tennessee Street entrance to Leon, a project that was initially discussed within the Foundation but was ultimately privately funded.
The LHS Foundation is one of a small handful of public high school foundations in the state, with the primary mission of providing financial support, as well as materials and services, to the students and faculty of Leon High, for educational and academic purposes.
Since its founding in 1981— spurred in large part by Bruce Culpepper, Gene Davidson (the first Chairman), John Olson, Ted Thomas, and then-Leon Principal Mike Conley —the Foundation has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund materials, activities, programs for the students and faculty at Leon  Through the years the Foundation has raised money through art auctions at the Civic Center, the staging of Leon’s first Grand Reunion in April 1987, rug sales in the gym, and a drawing for a $10K jackpot.
In the recent past the bulk of one year’s funds purchased the observation tower on the practice field for Leon’s Marching Redcoats Band, and another year’s allocation went to the purchase of books for Leon’s media center. Most of the dollars these days are devoted to fund mini-grants that teachers are encouraged to apply for each year for items that can’t be provided by the school.
They have been able to acquire things such as science equipment, classroom instructional materials, and field trips to special educational events, through mini-grant funding. Based on feedback from Leon teachers, the mini-grant program has been a welcome and very successful one.
And just as important, the Foundation also awards two 2-year scholarships annually to Leon seniors who will be attending Tallahassee Community College, in addition to scholarships it gives to Leon seniors who are children of teachers and staff at the school. 
Several years ago the Foundation embarked on its most ambitious venture to date: the establishment of the Million Dollar Endowment to perpetually fund the Foundation’s mission. Initially and energetically led for many years by Ida Thompson, one-time Board member and Chair, and current member Angie Sipple, the ongoing effort has so far raised well over half of the Endowment’s goal.
These monies are safely placed with and managed by the Community Foundation of North Florida. With hopes of reaching that million-dollar goal as quickly as possible, the Foundation encourages the friends and families of Leon High School and its graduates to consider contributing to the Endowment or to remember the Endowment in your estate planning.
The success of this year’s Spring Fling was due in no small part to many individual and corporate sponsors. The Board would like to express its thanks to the Winn Law Firm, and Angie and Marty Sipple, for their sponsorship of the Fling’s major components, as well as to other contributors, donors of and high bidders for Silent Auction items, all those who purchased tickets to the event, and the Foundation Board Members who volunteered their time and effort to make the 2022 Spring Fling possible.
To learn more about the Foundation or donate to our efforts, visit leonhighfoundation.org.  You can also find us at facebook.com/KeepLeonStrong to see photos of this and past years’ Spring Flings. To inquire about and contribute to the Endowment, please call the Community Foundation of North Florida at 850-222-2899.
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