Three weeks ago, on Tuesday July 3rd, with the help of some incredible friends, I hosted the First Annual Lynn Hall Memorial Golf Tournament. The event was held at Elmridge Golf Course in Connecticut, close to where Lynn and I grew up. To be honest, for this first event, I didn’t know what to expect. For me, I would’ve been more than happy if we had 72 golfers play … a foursome for each hole. One of my best buddies, who also happened to be the project manager for this event, Billy, was much more optimistic than I and assured me we’d get at least 80 … “easily” he said. As the event got closer and closer the number just kept going up. On the day of the tournament we ended up with 100 golfers. I was blown away by the turnout. It was a phenomenal and very emotional day for me.
Let me back up and tell you how this all got started. For at least 10 years, Billy has been hosting a reunion of sorts back in our home town. As part of it, he puts together a golf outing and then an after party at a local bar/restaurant. Unfortunately, I was only able to get back to town for one of the very early events. Now I’ve known Billy since I was 9 years old. We played pee wee football, youth basketball together and used to spend time at each other’s houses. We’ve stayed in pretty regular contact over all of these years. Billy’s traveled to visit me when I lived in Houston as well as here in Wilmington. In fact, Billy and his brother, Andy, came to stay with Lynn and I in October 2017 … ~8 months before we lost her. They came down for a weekend of golfing and fishing. Except for Billy getting sea sick on our off-shore trip … we had a blast (see pics at the bottom of the post … and let me know who has the biggest fish :)). Shortly after Lynn passed Billy dropped the idea on me about leveraging the annual hometown reunion to hold a charity golf tournament. At the time, I was a bit overwhelmed with everything so I told him to let me think about it. A couple of months later, Billy and his wife, Nicole, came out to stay with me for a few days and Billy, being the persistent, “get things done” type of guy he is … brought the golf tournament idea up again. By this time, I had already launched this blog and was planning to start the non-profit foundation. I told him I thought it was a great idea … and that’s all he needed to hear … we were off to the races. Within a week of “it’s a great idea” Billy was arranging conference calls with his brother and I to plan the tournament.
As I mentioned, I was blown away by the turnout and all the support we got in putting the event together. Andy got a friend to do all our sign work for free. Another one of my BFF’s, Terry, who I’ve known since 7th grade took on the role of treasurer and did a fantastic job of keeping track of all the money that flowed in and getting it deposited (with the help of her wonderful mom). Then there was Kathy and Bob who Billy recruited to help with the auction and raffle items. Now I’ve known Kathy and Bob since junior high school and were friendly but not best of friends. In fact, I haven’t seen either of them in probably the 36 years since we graduated from high school. Despite that they dove right in to help … generously giving of their time and energy. They did an awesome job … we literally had dozens of raffle and auction items which generated thousands of dollars for the charity. I was also humbled by how far some people came to participate. My boss and his wife and another work colleague (who happens to be a fraternity brother and one of my closet friends) came all the way from Wilmington, NC. But the one that just blew me away was a high school and football buddy of mine, Wayne. We were good friends in school but I haven’t seen or talked to him since we graduated from high school. I got a chance to chat with him at the after party at the Birdseye Cafe. Now, seeing the tournament was being held the day before the 4th … I just assumed Wayne was coming to town to visit family for the holiday and took advantage of that to play in the tournament. So I said to him “hey man great to see you … what you doing back”… and he says “I came back for this, the tournament.” He came all the way from Seattle to play and support … just amazing.
In the end we raised nearly $22,000 dollars for suicide awareness and prevention. The money will be donated to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
As I was getting a ride to the airport two days after the tournament, I was texting with a good friend and fraternity brother, Paul. Paul happens to be on the board of AFSP and also tragically lost his son, Brian, to suicide in 2011. I was telling Paul how much money we raised and he replied … “Outstanding. Lot of love in your life”. And I just thought to myself … no doubt about that … a whole lotta love. And when I think about it … Lynn and I were always blessed to be surrounded by love … family, friends, and God. Unfortunately, the power of love isn’t always enough to stop the tragedies we experience as a result of mental illness leading to suicide. Because if it was … Lynn, like so many others, would still be here. But I tell you what love can do, I can tell you what I witnessed on July 3rd … that love can help sustain those left behind and help them navigate the difficult journey they face. And love can bring people together … strangers, family, and friends. People who in some cases hadn’t seen each other in 36 years or chose to travel over 3,000 miles … to try to make a difference. That’s what I saw on July 3rd … a whole lotta of love.
Thank you so much … it was an incredible showing! See you next year (if not sooner)!
P.S. Lynn’s Love Story Foundation is officially a tax exempt – 501(c)(3) – non-profit organization … so any contributions made to the foundation are tax deductible.