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TOUR Wives, McGladrey Classic raise $20,000 for charity with annual Wiffle Ball game

November 6, 2013

By Doug Milne, PGA TOUR Staff

                                                                                                          Photos by: Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga.- The “Blessings in a Backpack” story is one that’s been told here often. That is both good and bad news. It’s troubling in that a specific need for help remains as strong this day as it did on day one. The anguishing irony is that many children still leave school for the weekend, bound for what should be the sanctity of home. Instead, these less fortunate kids are doing so with a distracting trepidation. A weekend away from school, they fear, is a weekend away from food. Too often, history proves the kids right.

Although different cities, different schools and different players comprise the body of each story, the risk of repetition is of leading the reader to a diluted or - even worse, diminished interest. Albeit valuable and life-changing beyond words every time, it’s often a familiar scenario. Good-hearted folks give of their time and money to send children home with food and other necessities to get them through the weekend.

On Tuesday at the McGladrey Classic, however, what began as the same song gave way to an altogether different dance.

More than 20 PGA TOUR professionals joined their wives for the 2013 Wiffle Ball Classic, a resplendent and humorously-heated battle of husbands and male students from nearby Altama Elementary School against wives and female students.  Fans, friends and family congregated at Frederica Academy Baseball Field on St. Simons Island for the game and cookout, which raised more than $20,000 for “Blessings in a Backpack” at the school.

“We’re thrilled with everything about this night,” said PGA TOUR Wives Association president Amy Wilson. “In addition to all the kids from Altama Elementary School, more than 20 TOUR players have joined their wives for the game. The unique thing about this particular night is that we get to spend the entire event with the students benefiting from the proceeds. That’s very rare. We get to share in the fun with them, laugh with them. From start to finish, it’s just really special.”

On top of the funds raised by the event alone, the PGA TOUR Wives Association donated $2,500 to this particular “Blessings in a Backpack” endeavor.

“Our job is a platform to play on and give from,” said 10-time PGA TOUR winner and St. Simons Island resident Zach Johnson. “The PGA TOUR has given us that platform and that’s not something any of us take lightly out here. It’s a responsibility. But, when we can join hands with our wives, and these kids on a night like this, it’s that much more special outwardly. We can do it in our own communities by ourselves, but in a group, with our peers, with kids…it’s just a lot of fun.”

“I’m all about helping kids. It’s all about them to me,” said defending McGladrey Classic champion Tommy Gainey. “Golf is what we do for a living, but it’s not how we spend all our time. I don’t know a single player out here who isn’t deeply involved with charity. And tonight, this charity is exactly what I want to be a part of.”

One week ago, Adam Wainwright was on the pitcher’s mound for the St. Louis Cardinals in the team’s bid to become World Series champions. On Tuesday, the Golden Isles’ golden boy was at Frederica Academy Baseball Field, vying for a different kind of victory.

“We just got home yesterday, so as fast as this all came together, I’m thrilled to be here,” Wainwright said. “They had me at Wiffle ball. But, be it in St. Louis or Brunswick, kids are everywhere and kids are in need. A lot of times, the best – or only, food they eat is at school, so I’m glad to be here to see these children, play with them, put faces with names and send them on their way with food to eat.”

“Part of our mission is to be there for children of all types and all issues - physical, emotional, family-related or economic,” said Jim Morgan, Chairman/CEO and President of Krispy Kreme, which served as the event’s title sponsor. “Over 20 PGA TOUR players and their spouses have given of their time to be here and take part in this. If these guys can do that just before a tournament they’re trying to win, we certainly can be here to do our part.”

 “The greater cause epitomizes what PGA TOUR golf is all about and certainly what the PGA TOUR Wives Association is all about,” said Johnson. “We’ve got a great product in golf. There’s entertainment involved, but we give back. At the end of the day, that is what the heart of everything in life should be about.”

And so, that’s the story. It’s a reality that tires with neither time nor telling. A call of sorts to read on, it’s a dread turned into a dream for the future of tomorrow, this time for the youth of Altama Elementary School.

In an interesting turn of events, or “questionable score-keeping” as PGA TOUR player William McGirt put it, the game ended in a 7-7 tie. “We were up 7-4 in the last inning,” he recalled. “They scored one run, but that somehow tied it.”

That’s a story for another time.

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