It has almost been five years since Taylor Haugen, a hard-working wide receiver on the Niceville High School junior varsity football team, died on Aug. 30, 2008 — at age 15 —  from an internal injury sustained on the playing field.

With so many headlines lately about the risks of contact sports, parents seemingly have been given good reason to put their foot down on their children’s athletic ambitions by holding them back from the playing field.

While some parents are questioning whether they should let their kids on the field, Kathy and Brian Haugen, parents of the late Taylor Haugen, and Jackie Griffin, mother of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, have teamed up with EvoShield to educate players, coaches, trainers, and parents about proper protection across all youth sports and to equip children with the tools they need to chase their sports dreams safely.

To date the Taylor Haugen Foundation has equipped 17 teams with close to 600 athletes with the EvoShield safety gear over the past couple of years including Freeport High School and South Walton High School and just last month Niceville High School and Walton High School from their fundraisers.

They have just announced the date for their main fundraiser, Savor The Season, a Wine Tasting and Live Auction, Nov. 6, held at Caliza Pool at Alys Beach. Once again, 10 local celebrity chefs will present remarkable wines paired with light seasonal hors d’oeuvres in an unforgettable setting.

The chefs who are not only graciously donating their time and expertise but also the appetizers that will be served are Chef Dan Vargo of Seagar’s; Chef David Cunningham of V Seagrove; Chef Chris Mongogna of Fire; Chef Brannon Janca of Stinky’s; Chef Michael Guerra of The Pearl; Chef Ruston Johnson of Ruth’s Chris; Chef Marie Nasri of Marie’s Bistro; Chef Ed Reese of Caliza Pool; and Chef Heidi McAnulla of Bake My Day.

The live auction will also contribute to a fun evening. Auction items in the past have included chartered boat excursions, autographed sports memorabilia, golf and spa packages, jewelry, and of course wines.

Tickets are $50 per person with a limited number available. Tickets may be purchased at All proceeds from this event will support the mission of the Taylor Haugen Foundation to provide support and recognition to athletic students and community organizations through awards, scholarships and equipping athletes. The Taylor Haugen Foundation serves to recognize the following attributes and character traits: Christian faith, athletic ability, community service, academics and leadership.