We are looking forward to our sixth annual Playing Fore the Pets golf tournament at The Reserve Club at Woodside Plantation on Monday. More than 200 players are expected to participate, and we are grateful to them and our event sponsors for helping us to raise funds for the Aiken County Animal Shelter and its homeless pets in need.

The planning that takes place behind the scenes for this important fundraising event starts in April, when the committee gets together to divide up duties, discuss changes and propose additions to make the tournament even better than the previous year. This is followed by monthly update meetings to review our progress.

The FOTAS golf tournament premiered in 2014 with only four volunteers. Sandy and Ross Staiger chaired the event, bringing their ideas and direction from a similar tournament they started and ran in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, for seven years. They brought the helicopter ball drop to Aiken to accompany this golf event, which has been a huge success. Selling and keeping track of 1,000 ball drop tickets is quite a task, but FOTAS volunteers and friends were more than up to the challenge.

Today, our committee has grown to 13 people. Karen Loughran, now in charge of coordinating the helicopter ball drop, and Sharon Johnson, promotion coordinator, have been with the committee for five years. Corri McCorkle, Cindie Davidson, Marylou Kling and Sharon have been helping to gather the great gift certificates and gifts from the business community that we pull together for our wonderful raffle gift baskets. Six new members, Marianne Malloy, Fran Warner, Monique Gilbert, Pam Patron, Linda Samoranski and Debbie Schroeder along with Connie Jarzmik, a member of three years, have been charged with speaking to the business community about the shelter’s mission, asking for their support in the form of tee sponsorships.

Over 100 wonderful businesses and private donors have stepped up to support this event. Our top Eagle Sponsors – Milton Ruben Toyota, Affordable Quality Marble and Granite, HESS Travel and Lorac Design Group – are valuable supporters of the animals and this tournament. LongHorn Steakhouse is providing participating golfers with lunch for the fifth year in a row.

As we move forward to hosting our sixth golf tournament tomorrow, we can honestly say we are blessed to have our loyal donors and new business partners along with the loyal and new golfers participating in this event. An additional 40 volunteers help out on the course the day of the tourney.

Our plans are to make this year’s golf tournament the best fundraising event of the year by making everyone aware of how important the work is for the animals in need that enter our shelter.

FOTAS is instrumental in saving lives and provides the Aiken community and the animals with such a vital service. The volunteers of FOTAS are able to work miracles thanks to you, our loyal advocates, who provide the financial fuel that allows us to promote proper pet care, take in medically neglected pets, provide them with the treatment and recovery they need and, most importantly, find unwanted pets the loving homes they deserve.

Their lives are in our hands.