JEFFERSON COUNTY - When Luke Meadows coached soccer at Horizon High School, he wanted to do a different kind of fundraiser. So, he came up with the idea of a raffle from the sky and it's now become a growing trend for schools and non-profits.
"People, I think, are done to death with cookie dough and candy bars and butter braids and all the things that come with fundraising with youth," Meadows said, founder of Ball Droppers. "Something like this, when kids hear about dropping golf balls out of helicopters, it's not something they are seeing every day."
Meadows takes thousands of numbered golf balls and has them dumped from a helicopter a few hundred feet in the air. People can purchase golf balls for the chance to win prizes by landing closest to the target.
"Rather than pulling a raffle ticket out of a fish bowl, we take raffle tickets and drop them out of a helicopter," Meadows said.
He started Ball Droppers just last year. And, he says different schools, churches, and non-profit groups have joined in. After all the golf ball sales are made, the charities receive 90 percent of the revenue.
"We've tried all kinds of fund raisers in the past," Glenn McWilliams said, chairman of the board for the Colorado Rush Soccer Club.
McWilliams said the Rush was looking for something different to do to support the non-profit club and its annual REACH Day festival at Clement Park in Jefferson County.
"It wasn't easy to set this up either, when there's a lot of approvals we had to go through from the park, to the county, to the sheriff's office," McWilliams said. "You're not usually allowed to drop things out of an aircraft, so it's been kind of a process."
McWilliams is happy they tried something new. REACH is a project where Rush players donate used equipment to give to kids in developing nations. The golf ball drop Thursday night supports REACH and the players of the club. It raised close to $20,000.
"It's a big thing to be able to raise a big chunk of money like that in a short period of time," McWilliams said.
Meadows says in just the first part of May, Ball Droppers has helped raise more than $80,000.
"Schools are a particular target of ours from the standpoint of being able to help with budgets and budget cuts," Meadows said. "My wife is a teacher in Adams 12 and everybody's feeling it."
Meadows says the 10 percent Ball Droppers keeps covers the costs of administering the web site and the processes of selling the golf balls.
He says often times, Copters for a Cause and TYJ Global, will donate the use of the helicopter and its fuel. Those groups are based out of Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport.
"So, from our standpoint, if there's a way we can give back in certainly a very unique way, dropping golf balls out of helicopters, it's fun to do," Meadows said.
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