EAST MANATEE -- Evan Lynch and Russell Rozensky are light years beyond their peers and even some of their teachers in terms of technology. They've already built their own drones and robots.
"It's way better than anything else we're doing in school," said Rozensky, a 15-year-old sophomore at Braden River High School.
Rozensky and Lynch, along with the rest of the Technology Student Association students at Braden River High School, are direct beneficiaries of grants doled out each year by the Manatee Education Foundation. They were on hand Friday at Legacy Golf Club for the 19th annual Phil Galvano Golf Classic, welcoming golfers with their drones.
"It's important to support what these kids are doing," said Gil Burlew, the TSA adviser at Braden River.
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The golf tournament raises money for the Manatee Education Foundation. A total of 36 teams are participating and the fundraiser brought
in more than $350,000 for the nonprofit.
This year marks the 19th year for the annual Phil Galvano Golf Classic, which was conceived in honor of Sen. Bill Galvano's father, the late Phil Galvano Sr., taught golf to such well-known personalities as Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, Tony Bennett, Carol Burnett and Johnny Carson. Phil Galvano also dedicated much of his time to Manatee County and the children.
"There's nothing more important than education," Sen. Galvano said Friday.
On Thursday, top sponsors had an exclusive lunch and a private round of golf with Galvano at the Longboat Key Club and Resort. Friday's tournament at the Legacy Golf Club kicked off at 12:30 p.m. with a shotgun start and dishes from area restaurants such as Pier 22, Polo Grill, Bonefish Grill, SOMA Creekside, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Sonny's BBQ, Bridge Tender Inn, Taco Bus, PDQ and Paradise Pops.
The Manatee Education Foundation is a non-profit organization, which provides funding for innovative programs and enhanced educational opportunities for Manatee County's students and teachers.
The golf tournament is an excellent way for people to get together, talk, eat and play a round of golf, said Mary Glass, the executive director of the Manatee Education Foundation.
"This is an all-day fun event," she said.
The Manatee Education Foundation helps sponsor a number of teacher and student recognitions throughout the year, including the top teacher and top district employee of the year. The foundation gave more than $100,000 to Manatee County School District teachers for classroom grants, financed sending 2,000 students to the DaVinci Machines Exhibit at the Bradenton Auditorium and funded field trips to the South Florida Museum over the past year.
The golf classic is one of the foundation's top fundraisers for the foundation. Marjorie Kinnan, a former school board member and educator, began the foundation in 1988.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.