Golf’s Angels Behind the Scenes

Jun. 2, 2016

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St. Jude Classic golf tournament volunteers give back to children affected by life-threatening diseases

Talk to volunteers who work at the FedEx St. Jude Classic golf tournament, and some common themes bubble up.

Chief among these is the fact the institution they are supporting, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is literally a lifeline for kids and their families facing monsters that would scare the toughest adults: life threatening cancers and other diseases.

“Have you been to the hospital? Have you seen the patients and families?” asks Jim Young, a retired Shelby County deputy sheriff, who is now a tournament volunteer.

“Have you seen the love provided by the St. Jude staff and professionals, and how much they truly care?”

“I have, and St. Jude is doing wonders not only for the kids, but for their families also. Furthermore, they also donate their research to the world.

“I know of no other organization that so positively impacts our local area and the world the way that St. Jude does.”

Jim Young, retired Shelby County deputy sheriff and tournament volunteer

Strength in numbers

More than 1,800 people volunteer at the golf tournament each year, which will be held June 8-12, 2016, at TPC Southwind in Memphis.

With a goal of supporting St. Jude’s efforts to help children and families, the tournament has been recognized as having the best charitable component among all PGA tournaments.

“No family ever receives a bill from St. Jude,” says Tehani Barton, a tournament volunteer who works for FedEx.

“They don’t pay for travel, meals, medications, treatments, co-pays, etc.

“St. Jude lifts that burden so that the families can focus on their child and helping them to get better.”

A legacy of hope

Legendary comedian Danny Thomas began fundraising to build St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1955.

With the help of many like-minded people in Memphis and across the country, within a few years both the hospital and the fundraising organization that sustain it were in place.

And the hospital’s mission was established: To not only to treat children with devastating diseases, but to aggressively pursue research into cures.

Hours for St. Jude

Golf tournament volunteers are passionate about making as big an impact as they can, so they often solicit donations to benefit the hospital through the Hours for St. Jude program.

“My major focus is doing what I can do to promote and support the hospital,” says volunteer Russ Beatse, who is an air traffic controller.

“I have raised close to $7,500 this year. Over the previous three years, I think the total is close to $20,000.”

Hard work and light hearts

Another thing FedEx St. Jude Classic volunteers agree on: They work hard, but have a lot of fun doing it.

“It is like waking up on Christmas morning,” says Jim Young.

“I get up early and get to the course before 6 a.m., which is normally a couple of hours ahead of my scheduled report time. I enjoy taking in the environment, seeing old friends and just walking the grounds.”

Tehani Barton agrees.

“My favorite thing about volunteering is the interaction with the spectators and fellow volunteers,” she says.

Volunteer John McVey

Being a FedEx St. Jude Classic volunteer is so enjoyable, many who do it recommend it to others.

“If you love golf, it is exciting and a real treat to work at a tournament, be inside the ropes, and get to see some of the best golfers in the world,” says John McVey, who is retired from the Navy and the Federal Reserve.

McVey provides real-time shot statistics for the television broadcast on The Golf Channel. He has a great time doing it, but at the end of the day, he says, it’s all about helping St. Jude.

“I think it is wonderful that sports can be leveraged to bring awareness and raise the funds needed to not only run the hospital, but also to provide for the invaluable research that is shared freely throughout the world medical community.”

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