Thursday marks the third year that all-star catcher Buster Posey of Lee County has returned home to raise funds for the learning center where his mother works. (Herald file photo)
LEESBURG — Major League Baseball star Buster Posey is set to return to his hometown Thursday for an appearance to benefit Lee County Transitional Learning Center.
As a bonus, he gets to visit his mom, Traci, at the same time. Traci Posey is a teacher at the center. Thursday marks the third year Buster Posey has appeared at the fundraiser for the center.
Posey is an all-star catcher for the San Francisco Giants. In his brief professional career, Posey has been National League Rookie of the Year, National League Most Valuable Player and two time World Series champion.
Posey got his start playing recreation baseball in Lee County and at Lee County High School before playing for the Florida State Seminoles.
Tim Mears, director of the center, says $10 general admission tickets will be available at the door.
Mears said all 50 of the $50 tickets for the pre-event autograph session have been sold. These tickets enable the ticket-holder to meet with Posey from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. and have up to two items autographed.
During the general session from 6 and 8 p.m., raffle tickets will be sold for $1 for another 25 people to get up to two autographs from Posey.
A silent auction will be conducted beginning at 6 p.m. featuring several of Posey’s autographed sport memorabilia items, equipment and photos.
Autographs will not be available during the silent auction, Mears said.
‘We ask that people not ask for autographs during the silent auction,” Mears said. “Of course, Buster will be around to speak to those attending and you can take a picture, but because the autograph tickets are a key part of the fundraiser, we ask that you not ask for an autograph. It puts Buster in an awkward position.”
In addition to Posey’s items up for auction, Mears said other sports items will be available, as well as numerous items donated by area merchants. A late addition to the silent auction is several items signed by PGA golfers.
Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served. In addition to the auction and the opportunity to meet Posey, visitors can tour the classrooms and see examples of what students and teachers at the Center have accomplished.
The center serves Lee County students in the sixth through 12th grades who have been sent to the facility for discipline or academic reasons.
“The students typically have gotten into trouble at their base school and may be placed here by a discipline tribunal,” Mears said. “It could be an academic placement if the student has struggled in the past or may be a grade of two behind and the parents or the home school officials may have recommended they be placed here.”
“We fill in the gaps and get them back on track as quickly as we can,” Mears said. The students typically are at the center for a semester, or half a school year, although some may stay longer, either at the request of the school system or the student.
Mears said the center’s 10 teachers work with an average student population of 60.
Partially because the school does not have a Parent Teacher Organization like other Lee schools, it seeks to raise additional funds through this event each year.
Last year’s event enabled the school to purchase smart boards and projectors for the instructors.
“We also do a positive behavior intervention program with student rewards and incentives, and these funds help in this,” Mears said.
The center is located in the south wing of Lee County Middle School West at 190 Smithville Road North.