Croquet fundraiser to help out troubled teens

Participants at the 2011 AMIkids Beaufort croquet fundraiser at Brays Island — yes, you can bring your Victorian digs along.

With needs ranging from new laundry facilities to a welding room, this year's AMIkids Beaufort croquet tournament fundraiser brings great need – but also great fun.

"It's our primary fundraising event and a lot of work goes in to making it all work for the people who so generously give, but it's also important that we remember it's all about the kids and for one weekend, it's all about the croquet," said Mike Ingram, chairman of AMIkids Beaufort.

The residential, non-prison cultured facility in Dale provides not only education but numerous hands-on educational opportunities, treatment and behavior modification. AMIkids also partners with eight community service projects throughout Beaufort County. Only male teens convicted of non-violent offenses can participate.

Students work toward their high school equivalency diplomas and also, starting this year, can earn a welding certificate to help them find good work upon graduation. In the past two years, 27 AMIkids Beaufort participants have earned their GEDs and seven of those students have pursued higher education throughout South Carolina.

The Saturday, May 5, golf croquet tournament will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Brays Island off U.S. 17 in Sheldon, about 15 miles west of Beaufort. A "Captain's Party" for all participants will be held May 4, 5:30 p.m. at the historic Marshlands home of Brantley Harvey Jr. in Beaufort's National Historic Landmark District.

Teams of four- to eight-people are encouraged to enter, and period costumes are one of the hallmarks of the annual tournament.

"We have a lot of fun with the croquet and it ranges from serious players to people just out for a fun day for a good cause," said Dr. Mike Harris, chairman of the AMIkids Beaufort croquet tournament.

During the croquet day, a silent auction helps raise money for the program, formerly known as Beaufort Marine Institute. Items range from golf outings to catered dinners aboard yachts and in historic mansions, from custom jewelry to vacation getaways.

Last fall, the Stranahan Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to AMIkids Beaufort to help fund the specialized, certificated welding program offered through TCL.

For more information , to offer silent auction items or to sign up a croquet team, call Dr. Mike Harris at 843-524-1762. Entry fees are $400 per team and are tax deductible.