Golfers tee-off to raise money for Wounded Warriors
By Staff Sgt. Jeff Janowiec
| | May 11, 2007
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
Sunshine peeked through the trees just after 6:30 a.m. on Monday while hundreds of golfers gathered at Cottonwood Golf Club to raise money for active duty Marines wounded or injured in the line of duty.
Though it’s too early to tell how much was raised, last year’s Wounded Marines Benefit Golf Tournament brought in about $40,000, according to Cherri Barnswell, director, San Diego Armed Services YMCA.
Daryl Idler, co-owner of the club, donated the course for the day’s event.
"It’s unprecedented that you get a free golf course," said Barnswell. She said there are normally fees attached to fundraisers like these, and was appreciative of the unhindered support.
One hundred percent of entry fees going directly towards helping the local military is a picture of what the community at large can do to support their military, according to Barnswell.
"It’s very typical of what the town wants to do for these guys," said Barnswell. "People call us all the time asking what they can do. Some give us a box of Girl Scout cookies because that is all they have. Daryl Idler has a golf course to offer; this is just more high profile. So many people want to help."
That help was evident when 222 golfers showed up to play. Each team was paired up with a service member, some of whom were part of the wounded Marine detachment at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
One of the reasons for the large turnout this year was that service members volunteered for the outing, said Brittany Catton, director of public relations and development, San Diego Armed Services YMCA.
"It is a really neat dynamic to have a Wounded Warrior or an active duty military member golfing along with the donors," said Catton. "That was the huge draw and that is what makes this so special."
Duncan Hunter, 52nd District congressman, was instrumental in developing this golf outing for the wounded Marines. Three years ago he made NMCSD a regular stop to identify and meet the needs of the injured and recovering service members.
It was during these visits that Joe Browning, the tournament coordinator and the senior congressional liaison for Duncan Hunter, found there were incidentals not covered by the military such as flying the wounded home for convalescent leave and bringing wives to their husband’s sides for surgeries.
Browning approached the Armed Services YMCA and found out that if Hunter’s office and the community raised money, the YMCA would be able to use it exclusively for those returning from combat and in need of assistance.
With that in mind and with the opportunity Idler provided, Browning was able to set things in motion for the tournament, which increased in size by more than 25 percent since the first year it was held.
“This was a result of the visitation of the service people,” said Browning. “We noticed this was an area that we could extend ourselves and help. It’s the only golf tournament of its kind in the world in that everything is donated for free (and the money goes directly to the military members).”
Some of the service members who played in the golf tournament had never played a day before in their lives, according to Staff Sgt. Victor Bachand, platoon sergeant, Medical Hold Platoon, NMCSD.
Bachand said that events like this expose the wounded Marines to new things and tighten up their unit cohesion.
"They are not Tiger Woods," said Bachand, who is originally from Anchorage, Alaska. "(But,) it brings them together and without a doubt they always have a good time doing something like this.
"A successful event like this is great for morale," he said. "(Now)There are a lot of guys asking to go to the driving range."