Friendship 100: Go-karts, golf tournaments help at-risk girls | TheUnion.com

Friendship 100: Go-karts, golf tournaments help at-risk girls

If he’s fortunate enough to reclaim the checkered flag at the Friendship 100 on Monday, Terry Brown will no doubt make like a good NASCAR driver and be sure to thank his sponsors.

But one of his backers, who has supported him with a donation each year he’s entered the go-kart race, says he better make sure he finds his way back to Victory Lane.

“She’s an older gal and she told me I ‘sure as heck had better win this year,’ because she doesn’t want to sponsor someone who’s not winning,” Brown said.

No matter which driver takes the top spot in the race, though, Brown said the real winner will be The Friendship Club, an outreach prevention program for at-risk girls in the community.

In the nine years the Friendship 100 has been raced at 49er Fun Park, it has helped raise more than $250,000 for the club, said Executive Director Jennifer Singer.

With each driver responsible for raising $1,000, the event has raised as much as $45,000 in a single year, Singer said.

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Last year, the first since a two-year hiatus from the event, Friendship 100 raised approximately $30,000.

The Friendship Club, Singer said, receives 75 percent of its funding from individuals and businesses in our community, which helps provide the five staff members and 120 volunteers with resources necessary to engage, educate and empower girls at risk in Nevada County.

That money is directed to fund the club’s summer program that provides opportunities for 100 girls by hosting summer camps and clinics, which are three-day sessions exploring gymnastics, volleyball, gardening, cooking, baby-sitting certification, art, sewing and photography.

“Summer is just a real important time for us,” Singer said. “A lot of people ask whether we shut down for the summer, because they think of us as an academic-year program. But summer is actually one of the busiest times for us. We have something going on every week of the summer, keeping the girls busy, active and having a good time.

“Most of our kids don’t have a chance to go to other camps. That’s one of our exposure opportunities. If we’re lucky and the snow melts, we’ll be taking some of the girls up to the mountains for camping and kayaking.

“It’s also a chance to delve into topics like goalsetting and it reiterates the bonds the girls have made with each other and it gives the staff a longer time to make a connection with them.”

In addition to the Indy 500 style go-kart races, the Friendship 100 also includes a miniature golf tournament and a banquet dinner.

The Friendship Club girls are there to host the event, which includes a catered banquet dinner for all underwriters, sponsors and participants.

Racecar drivers and golfers compete for prizes and grand-prize winners in all categories take home a personalized, engraved trophy.

Although entries are closed for the go-kart race, an opportunity to race against State Sen. Doug LaMalfa will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Singer said the bidding will start at $100.

Spots are also still open for the golf tournament. Cost is $100 per player or $400 per team. Sponsorship opportunities also remain for both golf and the race.

One of the event’s past winners is also one of its biggest supporters.

Brown, a financial planner, is a former board member of The Friendship Club and his company, Commonwealth Financial Network, is the event’s major sponsor.

“They do such great work,” Brown said. “I’ve seen girls who have gone through the program really become successes in life. And I’ve even seen some who were in the program, but slid back after they left. Yet then they found their roots, came back to the club and got their life back on track.”

Along with supporting the cause, Brown also has enjoyed climbing behind the wheel to compete. With one checkered flag on his resume, he’s hoping to add another.

But with a large field of drivers – including Sprint car champion Jason Statler – it’s not likely going to be a simple cruise back to Victory Lane.

“It’s a great event. It’s really a lot of fun,” Brown said. “The hardest thing about it is when the whole thing is over and you get in the car and you start driving like you were just driving the go-kart. I have to sit in the car for a second, breathe deeply and say ‘OK, Terry, you’re not still on the track.'”

To contact City Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail bhamilton@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4249.

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