Members’ generosity leads to students’ trip and Kiwanis-branded robots.

By Lew Matusow,
Florida District public relations coordinator 

In Miami, Florida, U.S., the McMillian Middle School robotics program is one of the best in its state. But when teams from the school qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championships in Dallas, Texas, U.S., they faced an unusual challenge: fundraising. 

Through initiatives such as candy sales, the school raised approximately US$7,000 to send two four-person teams (along with teachers/chaperones) to the event, which featured 400 teams from 50 nations.  

Two other McMillian teams barely missed qualifying — but then were invited at the last minute when two teams ahead of them dropped out of the competition. 

That meant raising another US$6,000 with less than a month before the championships.

My granddaughter is part of the school’s robotics program, so a booster asked whether my Kiwanis club could help raise funds. I explained that the school was some 25 miles from our service area — but as public relations coordinator for the Florida District, I could approach a club that might be interested.

“This is exactly the type of function we get involved in,” said Bruce Ross, president of the Kiwanis Club of Miami. 

A branding thank-you
The 102-year-old Kiwanis Club of Miami is one of South Florida’s most active community service organizations. So it was no surprise when its members came to the rescue, presenting a US$6,000 check that enabled 20 kids to travel to Dallas to compete and enjoy the international camaraderie.

As their way of saying “thank you,” the McMillan robotics teams placed Kiwanis International logos on their robots.

Following the check presentation, the teams demonstrated their robots for the Kiwanians and answered questions from the media.

“What the Kiwanis Club of Miami has done is simply fantastic,” said the robotics coach, Dale Adamson. “Not only did it allow us to send more teams that qualified, but overall showed the students that people in the community care.  That is an invaluable lesson that will stick with them forever. Thank you, Kiwanis.”