Boys and Girls Clubs Of Polk County Board Member Wins Winter Haven Golf Tournament
by James Coulter
Gary Wilson has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Polk County for 30 years. For 29 of those years, the local non-profit organization has been hosting its annual Fore the Children golf tournament.
Wilson has been attending the annual golf tournament for as long as he could remember. He appreciates being able to raise money for the organization while playing a round of golf with friends and colleauges.
This year, he not only won the title of grand champion for the tournament, but he donated his winnings directly back to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Polk County. He owes his success to his golf partner, and he feels fortunate to have been able to win a big enough sum to donate back to a good cause.
“I felt lucky,” he said. “It is all good fun out here….It’s not much money, but all these people, nearly everybody here is giving the money back to the Boys and Girls Clubs.”
The Fore The Children Golf Tournament was hosted on Monday at the Winter Haven Country Club. The tournament was one of two par three contests being hosted simultaneously that day. The other was hosted Lone Palm Golf Club in Lakeland.
Both events were hosted to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Polk County, a local non-profit organization that oversees various after-school programs to children across the county. This year was the first that the golf tournament was hosted to benefit the organization, which had been combined from two separate entities: The Citrus Center of East Polk County and the Lakeland/ Mulberry Boys and Girls Club.
The unified event consisted of two separate golf tournaments in Lakeland and Winter Haven. The grand champion of each will compete against each other in a future tournament to be hosted at the Streamsong Resort in Fort Meade.
More than 100 golfers attended each event. The proceeds will go towards the eight clubs across the county, including their newest branch in Bartow. These proceeds will prove beneficial, as expenses have increased while donations have decreased, explained Steve Giordano, President/CEO.
“We are so grateful to Polk County and the community here,” said Giordano. “We aim to serve 10,000 youths in the next five years, and we are already at 2,700 and looking toward Fort Meade as our next branch of operation.”
Both events were capped at 100 attendees for the sake of public and safety, and both events were sold out. Such success was attributed to the hard work of the sponsors who volunteered, including State Farm and Publix.
“What I like about this event is that it is one of the rare times we get to see the sponsors who we call on all too often for support really enjoying themselves and relaxing,” Giordano said. “And for all they do, they deserve relaxation. That is my favorite part, seeing them smiling on the course.”
Butch Rahman has been on the Board of Directors for three years. He was in charge of the Lakeland event last year. Being able to see so many attendees come out this year, even in spite of uncertain times, was nothing short of inspiring, and proved how much people were willing to contribute to an organization that helps local children.
“What we wanted to do is make it a fun event,” Rahman said. “We pushed it to mid-November for good weather, and that is the case, because we are having a great day with a lot of fun.”