Hayley Lapadula tees off for Kennedy Center

Hayley Lapadula from Milford was among the more than 100 golfers of all ages that swung their clubs for charity during the Kennedy Center 22nd annual Charity Golf Classic, one of the only tournaments in the state where junior golfers play with an adult foursome, which made for a day of golf mixed in with mentoring and camaraderie.

The Classic took place at Shorehaven Country Club in Norwalk and raised nearly $25,500 for programs and services provided by The Kennedy Center for people with disabilities.

Celebrity golfers who played the links to support this worthwhile cause included Grammy award winning singer and songwriter Michael Bolton.

Since its inception, the tournament has contributed over $534,000 for vital programs and services provided by The Kennedy Center.

The title sponsors of the tournament were the families of Diane Thompson of Sandy Hook and Julie and Doug Conley of Olney, Maryland, in memory of Fred and Fran Ahlbin.

Other sponsors included: ProAm sponsor Merit Insurance of Shelton and Invitational sponsor Donahue & Brown, LLC of Fairfield.

Twenty-two junior golfers from 11 communities throughout the state were awarded scholarships based upon academic achievement, school and community leadership, and golf proficiency.

Junior golfers aged 15 through 18 played for free in this scramble-format, 18-hole classic.

In total, over 472 junior golfers from Connecticut have received more than $220,000 in scholarship money.

Co-chairs of the golf classic were Trumbull residents Stephen Donahue and Sean Carroll. The Probus Club also provided invaluable volunteer support.

“This Greater Bridgeport civic organization assists organizations that serve people with disabilities and has a proud heritage of helping The Kennedy Center,” said Martin D. Schwartz, President and CEO of The Kennedy Center.

The Kennedy Center is an internationally accredited, non-profit, community-based rehabilitation organization that currently serves 2,000 individuals annually.

The agency actively responds to the needs of the community by offering innovative, comprehensive service options to persons with disabilities and special needs, from birth to senior years.

The Kennedy Center operates 16 group homes, an industries program composed of six businesses, supported and competitive employment and job placement services, a family support and respite service, travel training, and a variety of children’s programs.

The golf tournament proceeds have been earmarked for the Day Support Programs, also known as Community Experience Programs.

These life skills programs are located in neighborhood settings and support small groups of individuals with a variety of abilities and disabilities.

The Kennedy Center offers 24 Day Support or Community Experience Programs in the following nine communities: Milford, Newtown, Stratford, Southbury, Woodbridge, Trumbull, Bridgeport, Fairfield and Monroe.

“Over the last five years, cuts from state funding have made it challenging to maintain The Kennedy Center’s high standards of quality services,” Schwartz said.

“The funds raised today will allow us to continue providing quality services by helping to purchase much needed computers and equipment that are used to train and enhance the capabilities of the individuals they serve.”

Programs include five school transition programs, four autism-specific sites, and one designed to support people in supported employment.