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A remarkable charitable achievement at the 3M Championship

August 3, 2012

By Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR

Blaine, Minn.—3M Championship Tournament Director Hollis Cavner has always been a man with 20-20 vision into the future. But in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, he’s now got 20 million reasons to smile. In 2012, a Champions Tour event that Cavner helped nurture from the beginning will reach an unprecedented level in total charitable contributions, exceeding the $20-million mark while also celebrating its 20th anniversary.

When Cavner started the first Champions Tour event in Minnesota in 1993, it was hard for even one of professional golf’s most positive people to imagine what his tournament would eventually be able to raise for charity in the Twin Cities over just a span of two decades.

Originally known as the Burnet Senior Classic and played at Bunker Hills Golf Club in nearby Coon Rapids, Chi Chi Rodriguez, one of golf’s most popular players, won the first tournament, and the event raised more than $200,000 for the Allina Health Foundation. That partnership has continued for 20 years, and the primary beneficiaries include Abbott Northwestern Hospital, United Hospital and both Mercy and Unity Hospitals, all facilities under the Allina Healthcare corporate umbrella. 

 “We knew after the first year that this event was going to be a home run for charity in the community, but at that time I don’t think any of us thought we could have reached the $20-million mark as fast as we have,” Cavner said. “Ralph Burnet was great as a title sponsor in the early years, and he actually helped get 3M involved in the tournament as the eventual title sponsor.”

Prior to 3M’s title-sponsor commitment in 2001, Cavner had managed to increase the event’s yearly charitable contribution to the seven-figure mark. However, 3M’s involvement accelerated the tournament’s annual level of giving, donating at least $1.3 million to charity per year during the last five years.

“To be the first event to reach the $20-million mark in 20 years is a remarkable milestone,” said Ian Hardgrove, senior vice president of sales and marketing for 3M. “We are proud to support the local healthcare programs that benefit from the 3M Championship”.

“When you have one of the best companies in the world in your local market and, all the things they bring to this tournament, you can accomplish some great things. We’ve been able to do that for the Allina Health Foundation and several others as well,” Cavner said.

This year, Abbott Northwestern Hospital will use the funds from the 3M Championship to help build a new mother-children’s facility on its campus, vastly improving its paranatal (high-risk) and neonatal units. United Hospital is using its money to strengthen its surgery areas, while both Mercy and Unity Hospital have their tournament proceeds allocated to improving a number of projects, including their birth centers.

“Twenty-million in 20 years. That’s a huge amount of philanthropy and represents lots of generosity from so many great organizations. We are grateful to the Champions Tour players and 3M. This year’s tournament has a great field, and that attracts additional sponsors and fans. But more importantly, it helps us provide great care for patients and family,” said Richard Meyer, the president of the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation.
Cavner cites consistency and innovation as the main keys to the tournament’s overall success. “Our volunteers are as much responsible for us reaching the $20-million mark as anyone. We have over 1,200 volunteers, and quite a few of them have been with us for all 20 years. I met one lady the other day who is a 20-year veteran and her husband has worked 19 years. She calls him a ‘rookie,’” he said.

In 1993, the 3M Championship was the first tournament on the Champions Tour to stage a junior pro-am, an idea that has been adapted by a number of other events on the circuit. In 2004, Cavner came up with a Greats of Golf Challenge, an exhibition played within the main tournament on Saturday and Sunday that features many of the game’s legends in a team-scramble format. The event was wildly popular, and this year’s Insperity Championship in Houston adopted the concept with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player playing together in a Greats of Golf exhibition for perhaps the last time in their illustrious careers. 

In celebration of $20 million in 20 years, 3M executives designed a commemorative logo, and advertising campaigns and signage featured the logo throughout the tournament.

 

 

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