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First FFA Farmers’ Olympics raises $5K for Sandy relief
Indiana Correspondent

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. — Approximately $5,000 was raised for the victims of Hurricane Sandy at the first Martinsville FFA Farmers’ Olympics. The event was such a success, the local chapter now plans on hosting it annually.

The chapter met last spring about creating an event that would raise money for someone in need. The 10 committee members voted on a list of ideas and who could benefit most from the money. The final decision was to hold an FFA Farmers’ Olympics for the October hurricane victims.

The responsibility of getting this first-time event off the ground was on the shoulders of 16-year-olds Caleb Bright and Beau Curless, both vice presidents of Martinsville FFA Chapter. FFA Advisor Donald Sheldon was available for the boys when needed, but stayed behind the scenes most of the time to let them accomplish this on their own.

Sheldon was pleased how the event turned out and how well the entire chapter worked together in making it a success. “We didn’t have a goal for the amount of money to raise,” he said. “It didn’t matter if we raised $100 or $4,000. The important thing was the kids put it together, and that they have fun and do it for the right reasons and cause.

“We are going to make it a regular thing. And if it is for a good cause, they would do another event at any time if the need arises. Doing an event like this is all about teamwork. The school system has been a great help and has backed this event all the way; we really appreciate everyone who has played a part.”
After the committee made the final vote to have the Olympics, Bright and Curless began the planning and hit the pavement to raise money from sponsors every day after school until dark, for several months.

“It was stressful at first,” Bright said,” but after we started getting the sponsors and volunteers lined up, it started to get better. I am really happy with how the event turned out.”

Sponsors had a banner made, which was displayed during the event. All sponsors were listed on the back of each team member’s shirts and announced during intermissions. One company that wished to remain anonymous donated $1,000 to Red Cross in honor of the Martinsville FFA Chapter.

The teams participating in the event were two-people teams, with each designated by a different color T-shirt. Entry fee for each team was $75, and free-will donations were taken at the front entrance on the night of the event.

A total of nine teams participated in events that not only required teamwork but some skills most farmers use on a day-to-day basis. The events consisted of a wheelbarrow obstacle course, hay bale toss, bale distance throwing, hula-hoop contest, brown egg toss and a chicken dance.

The team “Orange Crush,” of Therman Rice and John Duckworth, took home first place. Following close behind in scoring were “Bright Brothers” Jeremy Bright and Johnathan Bright, and third-place team “Richard Boys” with Aron Richards and Bradley Thompson.
Curless and Caleb Bright stayed busy running the events and directing contestants and volunteers to make smooth transitions, all the while keeping a fun atmosphere leading to a successful ending. Curless stated most of the volunteers were high school FFA members, with a few underclassmen.

“By right, the underclassmen must put in their time before becoming a high-schooler and FFA member,” he said.
Currently, only ninth - through 12th-graders can participate as members and all underclassmen must work events and get training for a period of time before becoming a member. But Curless does not feel the younger students should be admitted as members to the chapter too early.

“Actually, the maturity level of the members is very important and has a lot to do with FFA,” he said. “Each up-and-coming middle-schooler should do their time in training before becoming a member.”

The Martinsville FFA Chapter plans to have the FFA Farmers’ Olympics annually and thanks all the volunteers and sponsors who helped make it a success. Curless, who hopes to become its president next year, is excited about the chapter’s future.
“Overall the event was a success,” Bright added. “I am very happy how it turned out, and next year I hope to see a larger crowd and more teams participate.”