Nearly 225 community volunteers helped to turn Monday’s Relay For Life Aiken Golf Classic into the largest fundraising effort in the tournament’s seven-year history.
The group’s goal was to raise at least $42,000, a benchmark cleared this year according to Keeley Scott, local Relay for Life Board member.
“We’re set up to make that much or even better this year,” she said Monday afternoon as the tournament ended. “We’ve still got money coming in, so it has definitely been a success.”
Golfers took to the links at the Reserve Course and Hollow Creek Course at Woodside Plantation for the event, hoping to make eagles and birdies, but also raise money for a worthy cause.
According to Jack St. Clair, an event co-organizer, the tournament was held in memory of Dennis Bartholomew, one of the original co-organizers of the event, and all those lost and loved over the years.
Bartholomew was serving as the Relay For Life coordinator and was planning the first golf tournament when he died of cancer seven years ago.
Relay For Life Community Manager Lisa Glass said the event is particularly gratifying because of all the community help and support.
“Everyone just has a wonderful time,” she said. “We know that 65 percent of cancers are actually preventable. By having fundraisers like this, we want to get to 100 percent,”
She noted that the Aiken Relay For Life’s team is ranked third in the state for their overall fundraising efforts.
“We hold that up as an example of the wonderful things that can be done by playing golf and having a good time, but also doing some very good work.”
Relay For Life is actually the largest voluntary nonprofit organization in the world, she added.
“We fund all of our own research,” she explained. “We’ve made so many wonderful gains, and we just need to keep the momentum and keep up the awareness.”
Liz Stewart, a local businesswoman and the guest speaker at Monday’s event, said her fight with cancer was aided by experimental research, which is funded through organizations such as Relay For Life.
“It’s a good idea to let people know that while they’ve had a good time here, there’s a higher purpose as well.”
The event’s presenting sponsors this year were URS and Anchor Health & Rehab of Aiken.
Jimmy Angelos, president of URS Professional Solutions, said it’s important to remember that cancer impacts so many people in the community.
“It’s touched all of our lives. It’s a good cause, plus people come out here and have a good time.”