For many of the 200-plus golfers in attendance at the 28th annual Richard Lee Byrne Memorial Golf Tournament, held this week at Scotch Meadows Country Club, the event has become like a family reunion.
“That’s what many of the golfers say. For many of them this is really their only chance to see each other all year and they all look forward to it,” said Eaton’s Bob Cresante. Eaton has been the tournament’s main sponsor and benefactor since its inception in 1986.
Founded in 1985, Hospice of Scotland County depended on the $12,000 it raised through the first version of the golf tournament to keep its doors open according to Hospice CEO Jane Murray.
Some 27 years later, the tournament has raised more than $3 million for patient care at Hospice.
In keeping with nearly three decades of tradition, this year’s tournament was one of the most successful in its history, raising more than $150,000 for Hospice of Scotland County.
Cresante said that his company’s support of Hospice is natural.
“Eaton is a strong believer in supporting the communities we do business in. And back when the tournament started, we had an employee that died and because of him and the Hospice care we got involved. Back then Hospice had a desire to grow and we wanted to support them. It’s as simple as that,” Cresante said.
In addition to its financial support, Eaton also calls in some favors.
“We contact college golf programs (to ask for donated golf gear). We get something from all the colleges, and this year something like 70 major colleges donated. They send because we support them but also many of them have been touched in some way by Hospice,” Cresante said.
One college went beyond donating branded golf apparel and club head covers this year because of a personal experience with Hospice.
“The coach at Oklahoma State, a major golf program, wrote a really nice letter saying that his mother had been under Hospice care and sent a check for $500.
“Hospice really has touched everyone,” Cresante said.
Because of his work in the golf business, Cresante said that he has attended many similar events all across the country and the annual Hospice fundraiser is at the top of the heap.
“That why people travel here from all over. It’s first class, from the funds raised to how golfers are treated and catered to. That’s a big reason for its success.”
Nearly 100 volunteers working on the event, some for months, and hundreds of sponsors and donors participated in the fund raising effort in 2013, according to David Hibbard, public relations director for Hospice.
“It never ceases to amaze you how generous this community is,” Hibbard said. “I think people really understand what we do and appreciate the importance of being able to provide quality care to people at the end of life.”
In 2013 Hospice had four donors that gave more than $5,000 each toward the $153,578 total donation.
Agreeing with Hibbard, Murray said that the value of “care for any patient in need regardless of their ability to pay” is something that everyone can appreciate.
The members and staff of Scotch Meadows Country Club have grown particularly integral to the event, which Murray said could not occur without their participation. “It’s a fantastic working partnership that makes this a success year, after year.”
And year after year, organizers say that they don’t look to make many changes.
“The tradition is part of the appeal,” Murray said.