It was 12:15 or there about Saturday afternoon and Old Man Weather offered an end – or so it seemed – to rain that had blanketed the Connecticut National Golf Club in Putnam, Ct. where the Johnston Memorial Cancer Events Golf Tournament was about to tee off for the 12th straight season.
In keeping with the event’s extraordinary history, the Gentry Moving Company canopy that covered volunteer cooks and chefs was a flurry of folks waiting to sample such terrific pre-tourney traditions as Ruth Furia’s chowder, meatball sandwiches, hot dogs, sausage and peppers and even hot wieners with a special meat sauce.
“This is like a huge family reunion,” several golfers offered while enjoying what they noted tasted like homemade meatballs and sauce. “You’ll never go hungry before or during this tourney; it’s a one of a kind charitable event.”
Truth is, the JMCE has cornered the market and has put a stamp on its annual golf go round that people call the best amateur golf tourney in New England, that’s played to benefit children who are battling cancer at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence.
Why though, do people from all parts of Rhode Island – and even folks from nearby Massachusetts – make sure they reserve a playing spot months before tee off and especially drive to Connecticut for a benefit tourney?
Perhaps the truth, as it goes, lies with people like Kevin Muldowney, who has played in all 11 previous JMCE tournaments and Saturday hiked that total to 12 as well as being a sponsor for all those years.
“Kevin has been with us for every tournament,” offered Chairman Vin LaFazia. “He’s a perfect example of how people feel about what our committee does for the children at Hasbro who have unfortunately been stricken with cancer.”
This year, 22 other sponsors – who paid $500 each for the tag Major Sponsor – felt the same way and netted $6,000 before Saturday’s tee off.
“I wouldn’t miss this event ever – it’s important for many reasons,” Robert Civetti, a Johnston Town Councilman who again entered his foursome with his brother David Civetti, John Mello and Jerry Madonna. “It’s really remarkable what a small close-knit group of friends have done for Hasbro Hospital. Everyone is proud to play in this event.”
It is philosophies like that – as well as affection for young children who have to battle treatments and operation in hopes of having a long life – that has enabled the JMCE to raise upwards of $200,000 since the event’s inception a dozen years ago.
Likewise, the dedication of players like the 160 that teed off Saturday – and mega tee and memorial sign sponsors – has enabled the JMCE to reach its $100,000 five year pledge in only three years and why Saturday’s tourney raised in excess of a record $30,000.
“I’m excited to be here today,” Michele Brannigan, Senior Gifts Development officer at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, told the 160-players prior to a powerful playing of Leann Rimes’ recording of the national anthem. “The patients and their families have been impacted by your kindness. We are so grateful for your support and everything you do throughout the year to help children with cancer.”
Brannigan, her voice cracking with emotion, continued, “Thank you very much. What you’re doing today matters. It has impact – you are making a difference.”
Thus, the JMCE continues its unmatched success and the record book will show that Brian Cavanaugh, Tom Hebert, Mark Ruzzo and Chuck Jaeger won the Open Division with Steve LaFazia, Mike Selwyn, Ed Ermaian and Don DiBlasi taking claim to the Senior crown.
In the Co-Ed Divison, Dewey Uriati, Tracy Uriati, Walter Geer and Michy Nanni took top honors while Steve Richtarik had the longest drive for men, Cheryl Jason has the longest drive for women and Fran Chatelle enjoyed that title among senior golfers.