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Members of local organizations gather Saturday at Touloulou's Beach at L'Auberge Casino Resort for the Building for Bucks Sand Sculpture Contest. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Members of local organizations gather Saturday at Touloulou's Beach at L'Auberge Casino Resort for the Building for Bucks Sand Sculpture Contest. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Sand castles give organizations platform for Building for Bucks

Last Modified: Monday, June 16, 2014 6:03 PM

By Justin Phillips / American Press

As Krisitne Seaward carefully stepped over a giant running shoe made completely out of sand, she eyed its shoe strings, checking for the smallest imperfections. Seaward was one of many representatives from local charitable organizations competing in Touloulou’s Building for Bucks Sand Sculpture Contest Saturday at L’Auberge Casino Resort.

As the ring leader of Ainsley’s Angels of Southwest Louisiana, Seaward wanted to make sure every part of their sculpture was up to par. Elbow deep in the sand, she patted, scooped and poured all over the sculpture.

“It looks good, right,” Seaward asked as she stepped away from the work. “It looks good. We’re trying with this one. And it doesn’t hurt that we’re pretty competitive.”

Ainsley’s Angels is an organization that aims to build awareness about America’s special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life by promoting awareness, providing education and participating as active members in local communities.

Each organization’s sculpture Saturday followed a specific design concept. The teams could design a sculpture as if they were at a barbecue, at a luau or at a pool party. What the Ainsley’s Angels created was a pretty complex pool party. A pair of running shoes sat at the sculpture’s base. One of the shoe strings doubled as a hose travelling across the ground into a pool. A beach ball made of sand rested atop the sculpture while other logos and designs adorned the sides.

“This really took some extensive planning,” Seaward said. “We had a little bit of an issue early on with our pool. When we added water to the pile, it spilled into the pool we made. We had to dig a little canal to drain it.”

As Seaward dove back into the sand, the Lake Charles Pit Bull Rescue team was hard at work on the other side of the competition. The organization won last year’s competition and as they put their final touches on Saturday’s sculpture, one design aspect stood out in particular. A pit bull made of sand rested on a surfboard in the middle of their sculpture - a portrait of the organization’s mascot, Halo. It was all part of the team’s “Hula Halo” luau design. Under the shade of a nearby tent, the real life Halo played with an empty water bottle.

Tyler Scott Sanders of Lake Charles was sentenced in April to 10 years, with five years suspended, for aggravated cruelty to animals and theft of animal. Halo was the animal he abused. The pit bull suffered from pellet gun wounds, a broken skull and other broken bones when he was rescued.

Saturday, after wrestling with that water bottle for a while, Halo played and posed near his sand-based portrait.

Renee Smith with Lake Charles Pit Bull Rescue took a break from sculpting to talk a little bit about how the competition was going for her team.

“This is always fun. There’s Halo out there being a social butterfly and the rest of us just like getting to come out and have fun,” Smith said. “We won first place last year. We’re confident, but no matter what, we’re satisfied with how this has gone. Plus, at some point, other people have to win, right?”

Smith said the money they win will go a long way toward covering the medical bills of an extremely malnourished pit bull the organization rescued only a few days ago.

As the clock ran down on the two-hour time limit for sculpting during the competition, Jessica Saxby, internal communications and community relations manager at L’Auberge, talked about what Saturday meant to the organizations involved.

“It’s a way for us to give back to the community in a fun and creative way,” Saxby said. “This is great for the organizations not only because of the donations they receive, but it gives each of them a platform to talk about their cause.”

At the end of the competition, Ainsley’s Angels finished in first place and received a donation check for $1,500. Lake Charles Pit Bull Rescue came in second and took home a donation of $1,000. In third place, The Children’s Museum of Lake Charles received a check for $750. Every team competing went home with a $350 donation.

Seaward rested in the shade for a minute after the winners were announced, satisfied that her Ainsley’s Angels team finished in first place. The donation will come in handy as the organization preps for its inaugural “Roll with the Wind” at Sunset 5K July 19 at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Tired and covered in sand, she smiled and summed up the day as simply as she could.

“Well,” she said as she took a deep breath, “It was definitely worth all of the hard work.”

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