The phone rang on a cold February night this past winter. It was my longtime friend, Greg. It was great to hear from him, and he seemed more upbeat than the last time we spoke. If you’re lucky enough to ever meet Greg, you’ll meet an energetic person who loves to interact with people with banter and humor. However, Greg had gone uncharacteristically quiet over the past months. It was understandable because Greg had just lost his Stepfather, Thomas “Tom” Fuqua in October 2013 to ALS. The disease took Tom quickly and much too early, even at the age of 74. Tom is loved and missed by his family and friends. Greg was very close to Tom and not only felt the tremendous loss as a son, but also the felt the loss of a friend and mentor.
When Greg called, it was to see if I would join him on his team in an ALS Charity Golf Tournament in May, which is held annually near Dayton, Ohio. The tournament is in its 6th Annual Year, and continues to grow with the addition of private and corporate sponsors. I rarely say, “No” to golf, so of course the answer was, “Yes,” but obviously this year, it was much more meaningful than the golf tournament itself.
TEE OFF ON ALS!
In the United States, May is National ALS Awareness Month, so this annual tournament (traditionally held on Memorial Day Weekend) – like many others across America held during the month of May – was focused on raising funds to benefit nationwide ALS research. In Canada, June is National ALS Awareness Month, so our neighbors to the north will be raising funds as well in June to benefit the search for a cure for this debilitating disease.
ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. ALS leads to a progressive degeneration of the body’s motor neurons and affects the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movements. This progressive degeneration of the motor neurons eventually leads to death. There is currently no cure for ALS but ongoing research holds promise.
According to The ALS Association, more than $67 million has been committed thus far to find effective treatments and a cure for ALS. Global research efforts have helped increase the number of scientists working on ALS, advanced new discoveries and treatments, and have shed light on the complex genetic and environmental factors involved in ALS. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time with over 5,600 new cases a year. 60% of the people diagnosed with ALS are men and 93% of patients in the database are Caucasian.
LET’S PLAY SOME GOLF
Of course, the golf tournament itself is not the story but it is the reason why over 140 golfers came together on a beautiful day at Heatherwoode Golf Club, in Springboro, Ohio (outside of Dayton). Heatherwoode’s Head PGA Professional, Matt Cole and his staff did an outstanding job with flawless presentation and conditions for the tournament. Tournament Organizer, Harry Ingalls, along with his team of volunteers, ran a very well organized event, which made the day memorable from start to finish. “We pride ourselves on providing a low entry fee for all golfers so they can afford to play and participate in the tournament. We also have our sponsors donate directly to the Chapter, on behalf of our event, so they know 100% of their donation goes directly to the Charity. This combination keeps players and sponsors coming back year after year,” said Ingalls.
A tournament this large takes some effort to put on but as a golfer in the tournament, it seemed smooth and effortless. More importantly, the event was a huge success with over $3,800 raised to support ALS research. The funds raised not only included those from the golf tournament but also came from a silent auction of sports memorabilia and other donated items. The crowd was very large and also very generous for the great cause. With the addition of new sponsors – most who are coming to the Chapter unsolicited with support – the goal of $5,000 for next year’s event is very realistic and exciting.
THE YEAR AHEAD
During this golf season, many of us will play in one or more select shot golf tournaments. These are always fun events where we get to play some golf with friends and colleagues. We may even be fortunate enough this year to have the opportunity to play in a tournament where the funds raised will be supporting a local or national charity. If so, thank you in advance and have a great time playing a great game for a great cause. Speaking of great causes, for more information about ALS and what you can do to help, please visit The ALS Association homepage at www.alsa.org.
Editor’s Note: Today, there are many new faces of ALS. Whether you are a person living with the disease, a family member, friend, or concerned individual, please feel free to tell us your story or share a comment in the comments section. We would love to hear from you.
BIO: Keith Cook is a contributing editor for localgolfer.com. His career highlights include rounds in nearly every US state and numerous countries throughout the world. He is a retired 29-year US Military Veteran and Ashford University Alumnus living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer.
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