In 2001, Mountain Foothills Rotary was chartered and the very first idea the club had was that it could raise money for a charitable cause by sponsoring a golf tournament at Hiwan Golf Club. The Rotarians hadn’t picked a charity for the proceeds, so it’s fair to say that the project preceded the cause.

What the Rotarians had not yet learned was that obtaining sponsors is the key to the financial success of events such as a golf tournament. They were able to get a few sponsors, but when asked about the beneficiaries of the event, the response “we haven’t decided yet” was not particularly helpful.

At the same time, Evergreen Park & Recreation’s special needs program was also trying to run a golf tournament to improve its program. They honestly hadn’t had much success. One of those who wanted to help the special needs program was Andy Smith Sr., who suggested to Maren Schreiber, who continues to run the special needs program, to approach the new Rotary group about joining forces. The agreement to merge the effort was made, and the Rotarians also wanted to include Evergreen Christian Outreach as a recipient of the golf tournament proceeds.

As the years went by, the tournament got bigger and better, and the profit increased. From those early days, the most generous sponsor was Andy Smith Sr. Each year, the tournament chair met with Smith to answer his challenge — how are you going to make this year’s tournament better?

Retired Air Force officer Mac McFarland chaired the event several times, ensuring that it got better each year. Before the club’s ego got too big, then president Kisa Lafontaine reminded everyone that the project’s success was dependent on the sponsors. How will we properly thank them? she asked. It was decided that members should hand carry plaques with pictures of the special kids to each sponsor. I can tell you that I love delivering the plaques and shaking the hand of our generous sponsors. It’s cool to see the plaques proudly displayed at the business. We rarely lose a sponsor, and the good results have continued to grow.

Then came 2020 and the pandemic. At first, the Rotarians continued to plan the tournament, choosing a date in September in hopes that everything would be somewhat normal by then. Well, that hasn’t happened, so finally the decision had to be made to cancel the event.

It’s the club’s longest standing and biggest project, so canceling the donations to the worthiest of causes, especially in this time of need, was very emotional.

Then, plan B was proposed by sponsor chair Bill Downes. Why not contact our sponsors and ask them to continue their sponsorship even though there will not be a tournament? They sponsor primarily because of the need, not the golf.

Well, the response by the sponsors has been amazing. They are all saying yes. Their unselfishness is extraordinary. Perhaps it’s the idea that we are facing an unprecedented event, and we need to pull together as a response. I am sure that among our sponsors are those who have been hurt by the sudden decompression of our economy, but none are telling that story. They are just saying yes.

Our plan is to tell this story in an upcoming ad in this newspaper. I hope you will watch for that ad, which will list these wonderful sponsors. It would be great if you, our readers, would thank these generous members of our community.

Community: a group of individuals who share a feeling of fellowship and take care of each other.