2009 Ben Kruse 18 FORE Life Charity Golf Event

Every year, it seems almost impossible to feel as if the next year can be better. And every year our volunteers, sponsors, golfers, and new faces deliver! This summer was no exception and after the weekend of June 5-6 concluded, 18 FORE Life had raised $115,000.00 with donations and memorial funds still coming in, enabling us to help out 86 families to date. That is $86,000.00 you have helped raise and distribute to area families fighting cancer, in need of not only financial assistance, but the feeling that we are here thinking of them, pulling for them to WIN their battles. Now that our 9th event has come and gone, we look ahead to next year’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration which will be held June 4-5. We are pulling out ALL the stops in Celebrating what we all have worked together to create. But for a moment, lets look back at what a wonderful weekend it was this past June in Dexter, MO!

The Ben Kruse 18 FORE Life Charity Golf Event Banquet held June 5, 2009 at The Elk’s Lodge

What a beautiful, fun filled evening once again kicked off with an Invocation by Vaughn Wright. Vaughn is a hero himself, battling ALS with a spirit and attitude that inspires us all. Kerri Kruse introduced Vaughn and praised him for leading The First Christian Church Disciples of Christ for the past 18 years. As usual, The Elk’s prepared a wonderful meal and served 4 long lines of hungry folks in record time. They are a wonderful partner in all we do and support this cause with pride in everything they do. Scott Kruse gave a welcome and recognized the John Brehmer family for their support and attendance on what was surely a “bitter-sweet” time for Marilyn, JT, Monie, and John’s grandkids. Kruse also recognized several ideas that were acted on since the 2008 banquet. Ideas like Ten Pins for Ben, Jim Rainey’s plan to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Ideas like the gals of Beta Sigma and Montgomery Bank who hold successful fundraisers during the golf event. Ideas like Cory Blocker, Marcus Norden and company who, along with their buddies, hand crafted a professional grade poker table to be auctioned off later in the evening. Ideas like Loyd Rice and his team of area basketball officials who band together during the week of Coaches V. Cancer to raise money for 18 FORE Life through their Blowing the Whistle on Cancer fundraiser. Ideas like Josh Rodgers whose friends at Smiley Riley Trailers in Sikeston made the donation of a golf cart trailer to go along with the 2009 Club Car to be auctioned off later in the evening. These ideas elevate our charity and help it grow each year. And finally, Ben’s great friends Andy Niedert and Chad Gaylord raised money by floating the Mississippi in a canoe from Jefferson City, finally giving in North of Cape Girardeau! The pair raised money by drawing awareness and getting the folks at Missouri Farm Bureau, where Chad works, to make donations at their send off! The ownership, freedom, and teamwork these folks find in their efforts is inspiring and full of passion, encompassing what this charity stands for and is all about.

General Clyde Vaughn was introduced and brought with him a video message from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Both NASCAR superstars thanked 18 FORE Life for their work in helping families fighting cancer! Vaughn, a 3 Star General at the Pentagon, is friends with Jack Rausch, Earnhardt Jr., and Gordon. He also brought with him autographed memorabilia that was a big hit later in the evening. General Vaughn, a Dexter native and former football coach, played golf the following day and was able to catch up with many old friends.

Gary Rhine was our 2nd speaker and what a fine man he is. Everyone found out just how focused he was when he got up and said, “I didn’t come here to speak, I came here to raise money for this cause so get out your checkbooks and lets have some fun!” Rhine was talking of his idea of hosting a live auction, donating his services and with the help of his friend Jimmy Miles, giving all of us the opportunity to get our hands on some incredible country music memorabilia. Items signed by George Strait, Alan Jackson, Tracy Lawrence, Kenny Rogers, and Charlie Daniels. Gary, a love offering recipient and cancer survivor, was determined to give back “10-fold” and pay forward what 18 FORE Life did for him in his time of need. As an incentive, Scott Kruse agreed to allow his head to be shaved if Gary’s goal was met! Check out the photos to see proof that Gary’s idea was a beautiful success, raising $19,000 and creating a fun atmosphere for everyone.

Our keynote speaker was Jon Sundvold. Sundvold was an All-Conference and All-American at the University of Missouri playing for Norm Stewart. He went on to average 11 points per game in the NBA. Sundvold shared stories of growing up and playing HS ball at Blue Springs, gave insight into Stewart’s coaching and leadership, and tales from the NBA. He wrapped up his talk by telling of his dog, 24/7 who as he put it, lives life everyday and enjoys every minute.

The Toast to Ben was given by Brian Becker. Becker’s toast can be heard on this site here. We thank Brian for coming to us the previous year and saying, “if you ever need anyone to give that toast to Ben, I would love to!” What a gift this was and a perfect way to celebrate and remember Ben’s beautiful spirit.

Nelson Ringer won the 2009 White Club Car. The BUZZ 4 was our fourth cart given away and looked good out on the course the following day.

Following the Live! Auction and some hair cutting, Addie Kruse sang 3 songs and entertained the crowd. Her versions of See You Again, Just Like Jesse James, and Love Story were a hit and her team of dancers added to the spectacle. Scott Porter played a short acoustic set before The BUZZ took the stage to play into the night. Dancing, sweating, singing, and a true celebration took place until after mignight.

The Ben Kruse 18 FORE Life Charity Golf Event on June 6 at Hidden Trails Country Club

What a great day for golf! The event was the smoothest one to date, finishing up just as the sun went down. The Beta Sigma ladie’s had jello shots on the front nine, Montgomery Bank had a ring toss on the back nine. 344 door prizes were given out as golfers arrived. Our annual Silent Auction was a big success, with an Albert Pujols autographed jersey bringing in $1000 on its own. Hole prizes were given out and winners of the 5 flights received prizes of shoes, pullovers, and golf balls. June 6th was just a perfect day for golfing and catching up with old friends.

So, as you can tell, the charity event was a real success. The thing that always comes to mind is how much Ben would love all of this. He was all about the fun this charity embodies. The old friends he might only see once a year. The stories and laughs. The great golf shots and the horrible duffs. Ben’s spirit is alive because of all of you who cherish what this charity is about. Those of you who support the cause each year. I know Ben has some sort of 18 FORE Life event in Heaven. I see him gathering others to look down upon us, saying “watch this” or “check this out”. And I can still hearing him saying “hit you a good one!”

Thank you so much for supporting what we do. Your teamwork means so much to all of us who have fun working to make this a success. Cancer isn’t going away and families need our help. Remember to keep us in mind throughout the year as a way to memorialize and honor individuals. Make sure and mark your calendar for June 4-5, 2010 as we Celebrate/Give/Remember!

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