During my years as a Florida Southern College student, VisteBall used to be nothing but a name that played during commercials on the radio and an event I would overhear from my college professors during their coffee chats. It was not until I began my journey as an intern at VISTE that I realized just how important this annual event truly is, not just to the VISTE organization, but to the entire community as well. VisteBall brings people together with a game of golf, the chance to win prizes, food, and genuinely good fun. The proceeds collected are used for the continuation of VISTE’s goals, which are to serve Polk County’s elderly, help them stay safe and independent in their own homes, bring them hot meals, offer them transportation, and so much more.
On my first day, I remember receiving a brief explanation of what VisteBall is and what it aims to do. When I pictured a golf-themed fundraising event, I imagined maybe 50-100 retired members of Polk County showing up to swing their clubs a few times, place a couple dollars in a bucket for the good cause, and then heading home. How wrong I was! As soon as I was dropped into the inner workings of VisteBall and started attending board meetings, it amazed me how much time, effort, volunteers, and energy goes into making this event a success.
VisteBall is preceded by months upon months of preparation, along with thousands of dollars and gifts generously donated by companies and sponsors eager to make a difference. Board members work hard to collect these sponsors and donations, and they spend hours making sure every little detail is tied together flawlessly before the big day. What I loved most about the board members is they did not just sit in their big chairs with a vision and order all the volunteers around to do all the “dirty work.” They would show up to the venue in Tiger Town themselves to build the game stations, put auction tables together, blow up balloons, and hang banners. They considered themselves as much of a volunteer as those who were generously taking the time out of their days to help put VisteBall together, and it was an admirable trait I loved to see in people who were seen as leaders of the event.
The day of the event was also a huge surprise. The 50-100 guests I had originally expected did show up, along with about 900 more! With a turnout of nearly a thousand guests of all ages, I was blown away by how many people had come to have fun and support their community. People swarmed the auction and prize tables, imagining what it would be like to take each item home. The game lines stretched along the walkways with challengers eager to win tickets and beat their friend’s best score. Guests gathered at tables with fine food and drinks, catching up with those they haven’t seen in a while and discussing the prizes they had put their names down for. The entire venue was packed with life…and hundreds of balloons I had helped inflate that morning.
The air was filled with laughter, the smell of great food, and a strange warmness despite the cold and wet weather outside. Whether they were guests, board members, or volunteers, everyone who was at VisteBall that night was contributing to the success of VISTE, who in turn gives support to our society’s greatest generation, and that was a beautiful thing to be a part of.