The Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit, is hosting its fifth annual March Madness Bracket Challenge to benefit programs serving Southwest Florida children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.

The cost to participate is a $30 minimum donation per bracket, or $100 for four brackets. After completing an online registration form, participants will receive a complete list of rules and instructions for completing their picks online through the NCAA’s website. Brackets go live on Selection Sunday, which is Sunday, March 13, and all picks must be entered by noon on Thursday, March 17. Participants earn points for correct picks in each round of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. Winners will be announced after the championship game on Monday, April 4.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers: a $500 Amazon gift card for first place, $300 Amazon gift card for second place and a $200 Amazon gift card for third place.

The Bracket Challenge is open to anyone ages 21 and above.

“With so many people working remotely or hybrid schedules, it’s difficult to maintain paper tournament brackets that traditionally circulate around offices,” said Jessica Stanfield, executive director of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation. “There has never really been one bracket that everyone in Southwest Florida could join, so with the help of technology, we’re excited to be able to crown this year’s winner as Southwest Florida’s Chief Bracketologist and that individual will enjoy bragging rights for the next 12 months.”

In 2021, the foundation raised nearly $12,000 through its Bracket Challenge, which drew a record 221 bracket submissions. Proceeds help the foundation recruit, train and support court-approved volunteer child advocates who represent vulnerable youth as they navigate the judicial, education and child welfare systems. The foundation also provides financial assistance to help meet a child’s basic and developmental needs, including the Children’s Needs Program that provides “extras” like birthday parties, tutoring, summer camp programs, movie tickets and registration fees for clubs and sports. The foundation represents children in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties.

First Horizon Bank is the presenting sponsor for the Bracket Challenge and a generous supporter of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation.

“The support they show to the youth of our community at such a pivotal point in their life provides foundational strength to that child for a lifetime,” said First Horizon Market President Bryan Simmering. “The positivity, empathy and encouragement from the volunteer advocates shines bright in what is the darkest day for many of these children. But most importantly, this program provides a voice for our most vulnerable when they need to be heard most.”

For more information or to register, please visit GALFmarchmadness.com.

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