Rewind to March and I can tell you, we did not foresee any hint of a Ben Kruse 18 FORE Life Charity Golf Event. Hunkered down and levels of fear mounting, the events seemed doom and highly unlikely. As the days and months went by, we became more optimistic about the outdoor golf event taking place and realized the indoor, packed room at the Elk’s Lodge would be impossible, and even reckless. When emails started coming in asking if we would have the golf event and a call from HTCC Course Manager Matt Thurmon came in mid-April, we made the decision to have the tournament and began thinking of new ways to operate, providing distancing for those concerned and fearful.
We couldn’t be happier with our decision.
The event kicked off on Friday, June 5th with a Virtual Banquet. Mathis Funeral Home allowed us access to their facility and technology. Aaron Mathis was instrumental, and working with David Robinson-our technology pro, we came up with some fun video to show as we recapped the 2019 year. 2019 saw us send out $250,000 in love offerings, bringing our total since 2000 to just under $2.8 MILLION! Robinson’s highlight video did not disappoint, recapping the previous year’s events with photos taken by him and Amy Ellinghouse. This is always a big moment at the annual banquet and it lived up to expectations-even with short notice.
Next up, Elizabeth Kruse detailed her fight with breast cancer as our love offering recipient testimony. Her story was and is powerful, inspiring, and emotional. She and her husband, Lubin, are avid supporters of 18 FORE Life and her words left everyone laughing and crying, as she told of her diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. After Elizabeth’s testimony, professional cellist Jenn Cornell paid tribute to ALL love offering recipients and cancer fighters with a performance and incredible arrangement of the popular song Rise Up. As she played, the names of every recipient could be seen as thousands of names scrolled down the screen. The annual Toast to Ben was a video pulled from the archives. The first-ever video tribute to Buzzman from 2005 the first banquet-was shown and loaded with great pics capturing the spirit that guides the charity this day. And finally, shoutouts to folks who were not able to attend were played. These included family, friends, supporters, and former guest speakers John O’Leary and John Mabry!
The June 6th golf event was as big as ever and was one of the smoothest we have had. The weather was dialed in and the sun was shining from 7 AM till dusk. The morning round went well, ending right around high noon. The transition to the afternoon was seamless, with the PM golfers teeing off just minutes after 1:00. Fun was had by all and the winners of the NOT So Famous Tan Jackets were Shawn Guethle, Chris Guethle, Brett Hale, and Corbin Eaton with a score -15 under par.
We learned some things this year with the implemented changes. The Silent Auction was moved outside, only one golfer was asked to pick up the gift bags, carts were disinfected/cleaned in between rounds, and all food was cooked and served outside. These changes were beneficial to those wanting to distance and will carry on in the future. We had four prominent doctors either play and/or attend the tournament, complimenting us on a well run and responsible event. The excitement surrounding this year’s event was obvious and all involved did their part to be safe and responsible.
In the end, our mission was to be able to send out $52,000 in love offerings, helping all of the families on our waiting list. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! It was great being able to bring people together to do some good, the very reason we started this charity, at a time when our country is in need of good. We all have faced some level or some kind of fear in the past months, but I am not sure how that fear compares to the fear a person and family feels when they are given a cancer diagnosis. We stepped up, did our part, and helped comfort and support these families during this tough time. For that, I will forever be proud and grateful to the community of supporters, sponsors, and volunteers who made the 2020 event a memorable success. This was, is, and always will be MORE THAN A GOLF TOURNAMENT!
Lookout 2021, we are coming at you hard with a passion and love that will hopefully allow us to surpass the $3 MILLION mark. Until we are told there is a cure, we will march on and do our thing. Love and respect everyone…..and again, thank you for supporting 18 FORE Life.