Twenty-seven professional golfers paired with Naples' most philanthropic players and four Immokalee students to participate in The Immokalee Foundation's annual Charity Classic Pro-Am, hosted by Bay Colony Golf Club in Naples. It was a record year for the tournament raising $390,000, the most in tournament history, to benefit the youth of Immokalee through The Immokalee Foundation's educational programs. Coupled with the Charity Classic Celebration fundraising dinner and auction, both events raised a record-breaking total of more than $1.7 million for the nonprofit organization.
Pro-Am event chair Kevin Johnson, with Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, is thrilled with the results. "I am always so impressed with this community that just keeps giving. It is so appreciated."
The tournament included breakfast on the patio and a golf clinic by pros Luke List, Michelle McGann and Pernilla Lindberg. "Jamie Sadlowski also hit some balls that just blew the crowd away," said Johnson. Breakfast and golf demonstration were followed by a shotgun start. The scramble format paired players with a different pro for each of the nine holes. An awards luncheon was held immediately following the tournament.
The team of Kevin Johnson, Leo Hertzog, John Koffel, Tom Rush - playing the front nine holes with Champions Tour golfer Chip Beck and the back nine holes with Champions Tour pro Donnie Hammond - took first place at the golf tournament. The group was awarded the Rick Kletjian Cup, named in honor of the late Rick Kletjian, an early and passionate supporter of TIF's Take Stock in Children program.
The foursome wasn't the only group that walked away victorious. In second place overall was Mike Morris, Tim Dooney, Peter Dreyfuss and Marc Stoll, playing with pros Veronica Felibert and Michael Bradley. Ladies' first place winning team was Shirley Hubers, Marie Stonesifer, Lori Crawford and Ellen O'Neill with professionals Kris Tschetter and Pernilla Lindberg.
The biggest winners of the day had to be the TIF student team, Gerardo Lugo, Charity Gonzales, Alan Cuevas and Heather Martinez, who had the opportunity to play 18 holes with Nationwide Tour professional Eric Booker.
Johnson said Mark Lye, a PGA Tour professional and Golf Channel analyst, deserves particular recognition for the crucial role he plays in the success of the Charity Classic Pro-Am, "Mark is a fantastic partner and manages to recruit an impressive group of professionals from the LPGA, PGA, Champions and Nationwide tours to participate. We've received so much support from the pro golfers."
Having completed his third year as chair of the Pro-Am, Johnson just signed on again for next year, "The Immokalee Foundation's programs make a direct impact on kids' futures. By being involved, we see their successes and hear stories of what they've achieved thanks to the organization. If I can play a small part in raising more money to help more kids, I'm happy to do it."
Sponsors of the 2013 Charity Classic Celebration and Pro-Am were Arthrex Inc., hope society; Fifth Third Bank, founding sponsor; Jaguar Naples; Porsche of Naples; Bigham Jewelers, education circle sponsors; Naples Illustrated, media sponsor; and Kevin Johnson with Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. Corporate matching sponsors were GE Foundation and Caterpillar Foundation.
The Immokalee Foundation has a range of programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary training, mentoring and tutoring, and opportunities for broadening experiences, life skills development and economic independence.
To learn more about TIF, the Charity Classic Celebration, volunteering as a mentor or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.