Eight years ago, for reasons I sometimes question right about now when I’m running around trying to pull off a one-man show otherwise known as a golf outing, I decided to host a yearly event that would hopefully combine one of my loves – golf – with something I’ve always deemed important — giving back to the community.
Some of this is rooted in my “former life” with the Blast indoor soccer team, where Kenny Cooper instilled in me the need for players and staff members to be active in the community. For five years, I assumed the role of the team’s Director of Public and Community Relations and made it my number one responsibility to have our soccer players “out and about” spreading the news about both the team and the sport itself. A great number of players who came here from elsewhere wound up playing soccer in Baltimore and then settling here afterwards. In fact, within the last three weeks, I’ve seen Keith Van Eron (New York), Scott Manning (Charlotte, NC) and Mike Stankovic (Europe) at various functions and always remember – proudly – that those guys came here, played professionally, embedded themselves in the community as players, and now have flourishing businesses right here in Baltimore.
So in 2005, I took on the task of organizing a yearly golf outing. It’s more fun than work, honestly, but the demands of the economy and “free spending” have made events like the one we’re having next Tuesday more and more difficult to pull off on a yearly basis.
I’ve never made the WNST Charity Golf Outing a complicated, day-long event. I understand (most) people work for a living and I value the fact that few of you have the ability to just “take a vacation day” to play golf in October. That’s why our event always starts at 1pm. That gives those who are playing a half-day in the office or out on the road before they start with the fun. I’ve also tried my best to keep the cost as low as possible while still raising money for a charity. I’m proud to say that the 2012 edition of the outing is the 5th straight year we haven’t raised the price of $150 per-player. I’ve had lots of participants over the years tell me they play in a lot of charity events and that ours is as good “for the value” as any they play in…and that makes me happy. But it couldn’t happen if not for the support of our friends and supporters. This year, for example, you’ll pay $150 to play, but you’ll receive a $15.70 discount coupon from Jiffy Lube, a bunch of free coffee coupons and a really nice coffee mug from Royal Farms, plus your own personal photograph with Ravens center Matt Birk. We also have a great putting contest sponsored by STX Golf where you can win a brand new putter. You also get to play Pine Ridge at the very best time of the year and you get dinner and refreshments afterwards. Oh, and there are prizes for 8 of the 18 teams and lots of raffle items. We try to make sure no one goes home empty handed.
That leads me to the most important part of the yearly event: the charity we support.
I’ve made two “executive decisions” since the outing started in 2005. First, the charity MUST be Baltimore/Maryland based and the funds we generate and donate MUST be put to use locally. Second, the charity MUST change every year.
Eight years in and we’ve accomplished both of those goals every single time.
Since 2005, WNST listeners, sponsors and supporters have donated over $75,000 to a terrific group of local charitable organizations. We’ve raised money for the ALS research facility at Johns Hopkins Hospital…The Fuel Fund of Maryland…The Casey Cares Foundation…the Erinn McCarthy Scholarship Fund at Maryvale Prep…the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation and the Hospice Care Department of the ALS Association of Maryland.
All of the charity recipients are special to me. They’re like children, I guess. Each one has a special memory. I’ve also met WNST listeners like Chris Schattall (he’s played in all eight) and Don Mohler (so has he) through the tournament. It’s a great way for people to get together and share the common friendship bond of golf while doing something special for OUR community. Sponsors of WNST like my friend Dennis Koulatsos and Koons Ford of Security Boulevard have been consistent supporters and/or participants, as have the likes of Jay Pivec, Frank Schilling, Steve DeCastro and Heather Benz of Ruth’s Chris and Darrell Phillips of Mariner Distribution. Anytime I need something for the event, they’ve come through.
I appreciate all of them. And I appreciate every single person who will be out at Pine Ridge next Tuesday afternoon. I’ll tell everyone that, personally, next Tuesday as well.
And that brings me to this year’s charity recipient.
(Please see next page)