By: Adam Estabrook
On November 15th, the Peter Pedroni Memorial Charity event was held at the Fairway Café & Venue at the Boone Golf Club. The event is presented by Casa Rustica Restaurant and Catering, a local Italian-American restaurant, and benefits this year’s charity: LIFE (Living Innovations For Exceptional) Village.
The Memorial Charity event has traditionally been a golf tournament held earlier in the year, near the end of summer, with holes sponsored by individual business. This time around, the golf tournament was dropped, with a dinner held in its stead at the club’s dining venue.
The event sold out, featuring a surf & turf dinner, live jazz with local singer Lani Lightfoot, and a silent auction for donated goods.
The owners of Casa Rustica, Rick Pedroni and his wife Liz, have been working closely with LIFE Village to put the event together. Originally LIFE Village would have sponsored the golf tournament this year, but the change of event hasn’t affected their involvement or overall goal.
LIFE Village was founded in 2014 by Dr. Jim Taylor, a veteran of special education, and founder of another special-needs-related foundation, KAMPN (Kids with Autism Making Progress in Nature).
KAMPN was founded in 2011, providing nature-based opportunities for children with autism at Camp Cogger. The program is a cost-free, summer camping session involving hiking, fishing, music, and other outdoor activities. But despite the success of the project, Dr. Jim Taylor noticed a gap in the services provided by KAMPN and other similar organizations typical to the field, prompting him to found LIFE Village.
At the event that Friday evening, in the din of the crowded dining room, Dr. Jim Taylor explained how the idea for the new organization came about. He told us, “Parents always ask me, ‘Dr. Jim, what’s going to happen to Mary or Larry when they become twenty-one?’ Because the help stops at twenty-one. So we decided to take our non-profit organization, KAMPN, to LIFE Village, and build a village for adults with autism and other related disabilities.”
Since 2014, LIFE Village has been working to realize its goal of creating a safe, integrated community for adults with autism and related disabilities. They’ve worked closely with the Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment (STBE) Department at Appalachian State during the past two years to develop suitable housing. The end result was a tiny house concept (as opposed to a single, large building). The money raised by this charity will go toward acquiring land for these tiny houses, as well as the houses themselves.
This is the first year LIFE Village will be on as the sponsor and focus of this charity event. Rick Pedroni spoke to us on the matter, excited for the present and future of LIFE Village’s involvement. “It’s a great charity, something we believe in. It ties directly to all of us, because all of us are affected by it.” And Rick is also extremely pleased at the direction the charity event is going, expressing excitement at working with LIFE Village in future events. “It’s 100 percent about charity and about them. We’re using what we’ve built and what we’ve put into it to help everybody understand more about LIFE Village.”
LIFE Village will return next year as a sponsor. The golf tournament will be reinstated in 2020, slated to happen in April, which is National Autism Awareness Month.
For more information on LIFE Village, click here for their website, where details on how to donate, what their mission is, and their future events are readily available.
For more information on KAMPN, how to donate, and their past and upcoming events, click here.
To learn more about Casa Rustica, its owners, and its history here in Boone, click here.