LAKELAND — An electric-car caravan organized to help fund Florida Polytechnic University scholarships and men’s health research was expected to roll into New York City on Friday morning after departing today from Clermont.
Drs. Sijo Parekattil and Jamin Brahmbhatt, specialists in robotic urology surgical treatments at the Pur Clinic in Clermont, west of Orlando, organized the “Drive 4 Men’s Health” and hoped to set an electric-car record for the quickest trip from their home base to the Big Apple in a Tesla S vehicle.
The trip covers about 1,100 miles.
Parekattil is a member of the Florida Polytechnic University Foundation board. Rob Kincart, another foundation board member and president of A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure, one of Poly’s industry partners, is also participating in the caravan.
“Health, clean energy and technology are among the most important issues of our time, and we’re so fortunate to have a new university in our own backyard that’s dedicated to advancing innovation,” Kincart said. “This is a great opportunity to raise awareness and funds for these issues as well as Florida Poly.”
The state’s 12th public university opens this fall at Interstate 4 and the east end of the Polk Parkway. Trustees last year approved a recruitment strategy of providing full scholarships to inaugural students willing to take the plunge on a school with no track record, no accreditation and facilities and faculty under assembly.
The foundation aimed to raise $8 million to $9 million to foot the bills.
It recently announced two major charitable gifts to the scholarship fund: Saddle Creek Logistics Services, a Texas-based supply chain solutions firm, pledged $1 million; and an anonymous donor is offering a $5 million challenge match, pledging dollar-for-dollar cash contributions to match what the foundation raises.
Poly officials declined to say specifically how much the campaign has raised.
“These two major gifts and efforts like the Drive 4 Men’s Health that raise both funding and awareness are ensuring we achieve our scholarship goal for this inaugural class,” Poly chief operating officer Ava Parker said Thursday. “We want to realize the full potential of our $5 million challenge match, so we are continuing to work hard on our fundraising efforts.”
The electric car caravan had raised about $10,000 by late Thursday. Half of the proceeds go to Poly scholarships, with the other half going to men’s health research.
The two doctors chronicled their journey with Google Glass and Go-Pro in-car cameras. They hosted Google Hangouts and posted Twitter and Facebook updates while men’s health specialists streamed discussions on the caravan’s web site. Their destination was a Tesla dealership in Manhattan.
The even coincided with Men’s Health Week, which started Monday and ends Sunday.