FORT PIERCE — Florida State Representative Tobin Rogers “Toby” Overdorf, (R-District 85), was preparing for an upcoming race — but not a political one. This race was the Fourth Annual Family Promise of Martin County Bed Races, a charity event held on Saturday, October 14 in Stuart, which was organized to benefit homeless children in the Martin County School System. Overdorf’s team ended up winning the race, and the bed that carried his team to victory was created in Indian River State College’s Welding Lab.
IRSC Welding Instructors Walt Posten and Austin Wiest and students Shawn Lagrega, Conner Gillard and Ryan Henson worked about 30 hours to build a bed that Rep. Overdorf and his team could be proud to enter in the competition. According to the race rules, the bed could not be higher than eight feet, must be twin size or larger and must include a box spring, a mattress, or both. There are five people per team — one must ride in the bed while the other four members push. Beds may have push bars, but the bars cannot extend more than 16 inches. Beds must have four wheels, but the wheels do not have to be the same size. And, of course, no motors allowed.
“IRSC’s Welding program has an excellent reputation, and I knew this was an opportunity for the students to use their training in a practical and enjoyable way,” Overdorf said. “Not only did they build the winning frame, instructor Walt Posten was on hand as our day-of-event pit crew. This was an absolutely great project!”
The students donated their time before and after class time to complete the project. “We really appreciated the opportunity to share our skills and be apart of such a worthwhile charity project,” said Posten, who has been teaching welding at IRSC for 17 years.
Overdorf provided some of the aluminum stock, while additional stock was donated by Southeast Elevator, and for the wheels, Posten scrounged two bicycles from local thrift stores, Posten said. The back wheels include some of the bike frames, turned upside down and welded to the bottom of the bed frame. The front wheels include the forks from the bikes and are connected to long bars for steering.
Family Promise of Martin County is part of a national organization with a model of utilizing interfaith networks and community-based approaches to prevent childhood homelessness. Family Promise is the only organization with a focus on keeping families together through intensive case management and mentorship. The annual race is the organizations biggest fundraising event of the year and exemplifies the hardship experiences by homeless families who often face the uncertainty of having a bed to sleep in each night.