High-flying fun, falling and fundraising - A person flying through the air - cloudM New York Bowery
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The Key West Track & Field Club will host a high-flying weekend of Pole Vault in Paradise Friday through Saturday, Jan. 10-12 at Key West’s Truman Waterfront Park. 

The nonprofit club raises money for the Key West High School track and field team and works to promote the sport in the Lower Keys.

Pole Vault in Paradise features fundraisers on Friday and Sunday, and a free event for everyone on Saturday, all at Truman Waterfront Park.

Friday features a huge barbecue from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., featuring live music by the Shanty Hounds. Tickets and information are available at kwtfc.org.

Saturday’s event is free and all are invited to bring a lawn chair and spend the day on the waterfront.

Elite men and women with Olympic pole-vaulting dreams will be soaring past a high bar, configuring and contorting their bodies. High school athletes, kids as young as 12 and masters as old as 76 will be pole vaulting.

A special event will feature local celebrities, including the Weekly’s own Britt Myers, attempting to pole vault for the very first time, “attempting” being the key word.

The competition starts at 9 a.m., with opening ceremonies at 11 a.m. 

Food and drinks, including adult beverages, will be available for sale, with proceeds benefitting the KWHS track team.

A fundraising pancake breakfast will take place from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12 at Truman Waterfront. The KWHS Steel Pan Band will perform while attendees mingle with athletes.

Tickets for the barbecue and/or breakfast are available at kwtfc.org

Funds raised at the event will be used in a variety of ways to further the club’s mission. 

“Some kids cannot compete because there are not enough funds for buses and drivers for all the kids that want to compete in an away track meet,” said club president Steve Hanes. “Those who do compete often are forced to use old and dilapidated equipment, such as the KWHS pole vault pit that’s more than 20 years old and was completely flooded during Hurricane Wilma. The foam is turning to dust. The rain cover has large holes. There are many needs for a program that is not funded by the school district.”

To promote the sport in the community, the club wants to create a track-and-field program for middle school students, Hanes said.

“Other than a citywide track meet for fifth graders run by the Masonic Lodge, there is no developmental program for track and field before high school,” he said, adding that the club also wants to establish an organized track and field program for masters-level competitors who are 30 and older.

Last year was the first year of the Pole Vault in Paradise event and featured dozens of athletes.

“What better place is there to vault than Key West in January?” Hanes said. “Come check us out.”

— Contributed

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