For Golfers, Help for Kids Is An Open Book
April 29, 2010
Charlotte, North Carolina
By Mark Price, Charlotte Observer
This story originally ran in the Charlotte Observer on April 30, 2010
First- and second-graders at Charlotte's Pinewood Elementary are a tough crowd for the PGA TOUR.
Not a single kid raised a hand Wednesday morning when asked if they knew the city had a tournament in town this week, the Quail Hollow Championship.
Yet the class of 40 was easily won over when PGA TOUR pros J.J. Henry and last week's Zurich Classic winner, Jason Bohn, staged a reading of the children's book Wolf! followed by an anything-goes Q&A with the kids.
The program, called Reading Above Par, kicked off a series of school events this week that underscores contributions by the championship and its sponsor, Wells Fargo, to improving literacy.
Last year alone, Wells Fargo-Wachovia employees volunteered 90,000 hours of service in Mecklenburg County schools. The tournament's charitable arm, Champions for Education, gave $800,000 to a nonprofit that helps place young teachers in the system's most troubled schools.
Another big donation for that nonprofit, Teach for America of Charlotte, is predicted to follow this year's tournament.
Reading Above Par continues today with a morning visit by Miss America Caressa Cameron to KIPP Charlotte, a charter school. On Friday, former Carolina Panther Mike Minter will read at Highland Renaissance Academy. The bank also intends to give away 1,500 books to students during the visits.
For pros Henry and Bohn, the reading session at Pinewood was a first. However, both are fathers with children younger than 10, so they have experience with bedtime stories.
"To be here, interacting, seeing the smiles and laughter on their faces, is really wonderful," said Henry.
Added Bohn: "I'd rather be here answering their questions vs. questions from corporate America. The innocence of the questions is the beauty of it."
So in the spirit of innocence and beauty, here's what the kids wanted to know:
Does he have a team? "Myself and my caddy," Bohn told his interrogators. "I call it Team Bohn."
What hand does he hit the ball with? "I hit the ball with my right hand and J.J. does, too. There are more guys on the tour who hit the ball with their right hand than with their left."
Does he actually like golf? "Sometimes," said Bohn, who won last week's tour stop in New Orleans. "I'm loving it right now."
Has he ever lost? "About every week but last week. In golf, it's different; you lose a lot. One hundred and fifty six (players) start and there's only one winner, so 155 lose... But you gain a lot by losing a lot."
The two men say giving back to the community is a big part of the PGA Tour, a point proved by the $11 million in donations to local and regional charities generated by the Quail Hollow's Champions for Education since 2003.
Last year, it gave $1.6 million to area organizations, with half going to Teach for America of Charlotte. In fact, the championship helped start the Charlotte chapter with a $500,000 donation. Tim Hurley, the chapter's executive director, says the tournament gift helps keep 230 teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, reaching nearly 15,000 students.
"The way I see it," he said, "we wouldn't exist without Champions for Education."
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