Operation Stand Down’s annual golf tournament draws record numbers

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Too many hands, so states an old adage, will spoil the broth.

However, that won’t hold water with people like Erik B. Wallin, Esq., a former U.S. Air Force captain who currently serves as executive director and legal counsel for Operation stand Down Rhode Island (OSDRI).

In fact, OSDRI’s slogan: “A hand up, not a hand out” – can easily be applied to the award-winning non-profit’s annual golf tournament played last Saturday on the beautiful 18-hole golf course known as Connecticut National Country Club in Putnam, Conn.

First and foremost, there were a lot of hands that helped make the 2014 golf go-around the best ever since OSDRI linked up with the fundraising event several years ago.

Wallin, for example, was ecstatic withy the day’s results.

“This was our biggest and best tournament ever,” he said. “It was sold out. We had an overflow field of golfers, and each and every player made this a day – and tournament – of historic portions.”

First off, tournaments that book an 18-hole course for a specific fundraiser consider a sell out to be 144 golfers.

OSDRI’s playing field totaled 156 golfers last Saturday at Connecticut National, which also plays host to the Johnston Memorial Cancer Events (JMCE) annual tournament.

“Incredible ... absolutely incredible,” Wallin said. “What a great day. It’s like our annual Stand Down Weekend – we will not turn anyone away.”

Likewise, Vin La Fazia – who chairs the always sold-out JMCE Golf Tournament, which has raised $95,000 for Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence since its inception – said “everything went extremely well. This was a great, great tournament, to say the least.”

La Fazia, who helped coordinate the tourney with his wife Linda, chairman John Furia and state Sen. Frank Lombardo, noted, “Connecticut National was again great and everyone had a great time.”

The one-time Johnston recreation director also emphasized “the food was great and we had plenty of it from start to finish.”

In keeping with tradition, the OSDRI tournament served a pre-start lunch that featured charcoal grilled chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and sausage and pepper sandwiches cooked by various volunteers. Even the post-tournament dinner – roast beef, corn on the cob, potatoes and salad – was super, La Fazia assessed.

He also wanted it known that “John Furia again did a great job in chairing this year’s tournament,” and that Lombardo “continues to be a staunch supporter for a golf tournament that offers far reaching help above and beyond the 19th hole.”

OSDRI’s mission is to help homeless and at-risk veterans secure stable housing and other assistance based on to individual needs, including case management, basic human needs, referrals, education and employment.

This year’s tournament championship went to the foursome of Ray Castigliogo, Lorri Parker, Jim Wardick and Steve Delsanto, while Don Devine, John Ryan, Joe Hopkins and Dave Gelsomino were runners-up. The foursome of Kim Buckley, Bud Balfour, Kathy Balfour and Tim Buckley took home top honors in the coed division.

Second place in the coed division went to Dennis Chatelle, Jeanne Chatelle, Patty Doyle and John Graham, who also won “closest to the pin” for men. Kathy Balfour won the honor among women, and Dom Vinacco and Lorri Parker took home “longest drive” honors for men and women, respectively.

“This was a super success, a sellout plus that after expenses netted $9,000 to help our valuable veterans,” Wallin said.

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