Area club members and pros tee off
to benefit The Immokalee Foundation
by Steven Kissinger
The ninth annual Inter-Club Challenge, a spirited golf tournament that pits golf club against golf club in a friendly rivalry, provides the unique opportunity to compete for a cause. Set for Monday, May 4, 2015 at The Club at Mediterra in Naples, proceeds from the tournament will support a brighter future for the children of Immokalee through The Immokalee Foundation’s programs.
Jon Buddenhagen, head golf pro at Hole-In-The-Wall Golf Club, played in the tournament for the first time last year and was impressed not only with the event, but with TIF and its mission to help every child become capable of pursuing a productive life far beyond the limits of Immokalee through programs focused on education, career and life skills.
Buddenhagen said after his experience with the event, he wanted to get involved with TIF in a capacity that was appropriate for him; he decided to participate once again this year, along with his member team. “The Immokalee Foundation is one of the most comprehensive charities I’ve seen,” he said. “They do what they set out to do. They make an impact and follow through on it.”
Equally impressive, Buddenhagen said, is other member teams and their obvious commitment to helping Immokalee’s youth – without the accolades sometimes sought by benefactors. “People often get caught up in an event’s prizes and start to stray from the purpose of the fundraiser,” he said, noting that this wasn’t the case at TIF’s Inter-Club Challenge. “Most folks aren’t doing it for a pat on the back, which speaks to any good charity effort. It’s a fun day of golf, but participants are more interested in working toward the end goal of helping students succeed.”
As with a majority of TIF fundraisers, children are the focus. Each year, students assist with the day’s activities and have the chance to play with the teams – providing them with a great opportunity to interact with their benefactors and pro golfers. Plus, it allows the teams to meet the students whose lives they are directly impacting by taking part in the tournament. The golfers often report that meeting Immokalee’s youth is the best part of the day. Buddenhagen was certainly delighted.
“You get a chance to meet five or six students who are either in The Immokalee Foundation’s programs or have gone through them,” he said. “It’s a great way for people to learn about the organization and the difference it makes in the lives of these children.”
The students who participate are equally as delighted. Alan Cuevas, a TIF Take Stock in Children participant, is a high school senior playing in his second Inter-Club Challenge. “I really liked it last year, but I’m looking forward to some redemption,” Cuevas laughed. “I didn’t do so well last year.”
In addition to having fun playing the game, Cuevas said he especially enjoys getting to know the pros and the people who donate and make things possible for students like him. “You expect donors to give money and that’s it,” he said. “But TIF donors are different – their level of interest is amazing. They want to see who they’re investing in. They want to hear our stories and get to know us.”
Charity Gonzales, a senior at Immokalee High School, also will participate in this year’s Inter-Club Challenge. Although this is her fifth time playing in the tournament, she says she never tires of it.
“I meet new people every time we attend the tournament, and I think it’s pretty cool that they pair us with a professional golfer,” Gonzales says. “I always learn new tricks and techniques from the pros, but my favorite part is having a good time on the golf course.”
Participation in the Inter-Club Challenge is $1,250 per golfer or $5,000 per foursome. Registration, breakfast and driving range practice begins at 8 a.m., with a shotgun start at 9:15 a.m. Lunch starts at 1:30 p.m., where prizes will be awarded to the winning men’s and women’s teams, as well as a closest to the pin. There also are multiple underwriting opportunities available for individuals and corporate partners, including hole sponsorships starting at $750 to help raise additional funds for TIF’s mission in Immokalee.
The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about TIF, the Inter-Club Challenge, volunteering as a mentor or for additional information, call 239.430.9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.
Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at email@example.com.
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