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Supporters turn out for Orland Park teen center

Claire Hort2 is assisted by her mother Kate Hortas she fills bag for American military Community Connections station.  |

Claire Horton, 2, is assisted by her mother Kate Horton as she fills a bag for American military at the Community Connections station. | Ginger Brashinger~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 10, 2013 6:08AM



The Bridge Teen Center in Orland Park held a Community Walk on Saturday to raise funds for free programs the center offers teens from seventh through 12th grades.

“We believe we raised close to $30,000, which we are thrilled about,” said Rob Steinmetz, the center’s co-founder and director of marketing and development.

Steinmetz and his wife, Priscilla Steinmetz, executive director of the center, founded The Bridge Teen Center 31/2 years ago.

Rob Steinmetz said that although a number of walks are held each year to benefit various charities and organizations, the center’s inaugural walk was a bit different.

“When we started the Bridge, we wanted to build a foundation of support (in the community),” he said. “About a year ago, we felt we were missing a large-scale community event. We realized there are a lot of walks out there, but this one had a little bit of a Bridge spin to it.”

Walkers unfamiliar with the inner workings of the center were able to get an idea of what it has to offer at five stations positioned throughout the approximately 1.5-mile walk, Rob Steinmetz said. Each station represented one of the center’s five main programs.

At Veterans Hall on West Avenue, a Community Connections station encouraged participants to fill quart-sized plastic bags with both necessary and entertaining items for American military members.

An “Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?” challenge at Orland Park Junior High represented both the informative and entertaining aspects of the educational support program.

Another program station was a community art project to reflect the Expressive Arts program. “Inspire” will be displayed at The Bridge Teen Center, 15555 S. 71st Court, Rob Steinmetz said.

An Everyday Life program offered CPR and fire safety demonstrations by Orland Fire Protection District personnel. A culinary demonstration by Whole Foods reflecting the Mind/Body program took place in the Orland Park Civic Center after the walk. Wooden Paddle Pizza and Harvest Room offered free food samples.

Carol Aspan, of Orland Park, won a $100 gift certificate to Harry Caray’s restaurant as the top individual fundraiser. Aspan raised $800.

Team “Out of the Blue,” led by Barbara Ferriter, of Oak Lawn, was the top team fundraiser. The team won a $500 gift certificate to Harry Caray’s restaurant.

Amber Holup, 15, of Tinley Park, won an iPad as the top student fundraiser. Holup, a member of The Bridge Teen Center, raised $700.

All 250 participants received a free “Be the best you can be” T-shirt.

“I do think what did happen today may be that 250 or so people who, maybe before, didn’t have a feel for (what the Bridge is) now can speak with more confidence as to who we are and what we do, which was our goal,” Rob Steinmetz said.

For more information, call (708) 532-0500 or visit www.thebridgeteencenter.org.



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