My apologies to my readers, I’ve been offline for a few weeks. It wasn’t because I had writer’s block or was giving up on the blog. It was because I was consumed with something more important—to me—than writing.
Every summer, from mid-August to the end of September, my personal life is put on hold while I devote every spare moment to the Canebrake Memorial Golf Tournament. The event supports the Mid-South Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
This cause is a personal one for both my family and me. We lost my father to this horrific disease in 2013. While we struggled to cope with his decline and ultimate passing, we were unaware of what the Alzheimer’s Association did in support of both patients and caregivers. I didn’t learn about the organization until well after Daddy’s passing. I determined to become an active supporter of this cause.
Some factoids that I’ve been spewing out this year to anyone who cared to listen:
- Five million Americans are now living with Alzheimer’s.
- Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
- In 2016, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $236 billion dollars.
My girls take this event to heart as well. They forgive my busy schedule and complete lack of availability during tournament time, because the pain of losing their granddaddy is still fresh, and they don’t want any other grandchildren to have to suffer what they did. They tolerate missed meals and struggle with homework on their own (which was a problem this year as, apparently, we had Calculus issues the week before the tournament).
The event has grown from a simple day of golf in Year One to a multi-day event designed to allow golfers and non-golfers alike a way to participate. We planned a Zumbathon, a Tennis Round-Robin, and a 5K run in advance of the golf tournament. We welcomed sponsors and volunteers at an appreciation party the night before the actual golf tournament. All totaled, over 250 people took part in the Canebrake Memorial this year.
While planning for an event like ours starts a year in advance, the real work begins in mid-August, and a small army of volunteers got busy. The website was updated, new flyers for players and sponsors were designed and printed. All players and sponsors from previous years were contacted in hopes of their continued support. Caterers were auditioned and booked for the various events. We went door-to-door soliciting raffle prize donations.
The final week before the tournament was a flurry of activity. We sorted, organized, labeled, and delivered two pickup trucks’ worth of raffle and door prizes to the club for safe keeping. We picked up 74 signs and 16 banners from the printers. We assembled 180 goodie bags to distribute to golfers, runners, and Zumbathoners. The event company pitched a tent in my back yard for the appreciation party–we set up tables and chairs for 80 people.
Then, tourney weekend was upon us. Saturday morning, the Zumbathoners danced for two hours, led by local fitness gurus, Taylor Thornton Thomas and Cynthia Cross. We had to cancel the Tennis Round-Robin due to an advertising glitch, but Sunday morning dawned cool and clear, and the 5K runners took to the back nine holes of the golf course in their running shoes. Sunday evening, although the weather was a little warm, 80 sponsors and volunteers came to the appreciation party, and folks from the Alzheimer’s Association were there to express their thanks.
Monday, September 26th, tournament day, the course began to fill with golfers. We had 148 players on the course that day, and even though rain delayed us a little while during the morning round, all golfers were able to finish play. That night, after the dinner was served and the prizes raffled off, we were able to announce that the 3rd Annual Canebrake Memorial Golf Tournament had raised over $27,500 for the Alzheimer’s Association.
So, for a few weeks every year, I live and breathe this tournament. It would certainly be easier just to write a check.
It just wouldn’t be as fulfilling.