Dozens of local golf enthusiasts gathered this morning at Valparaiso Country Club to enjoy a round of their favorite pastime, chat with friends and most importantly, raise money to support Opportunity Enterprises. One Amazing Golf Outing, now in its eleventh year, is arranged and hosted solely by the Friends of OE, a volunteer group whose goal is to support and benefit Opportunity Enterprises programs and services.
“This was an idea that we developed eleven years ago,” Runnion said. “One night, Dr. Dennis Smith, Mark Davidson, Dr. Doug Dedelow and I were sitting around a fire pit with a friend of ours, Tom Cuddy, who was a board member at OE. Tom mentioned that nobody has ever done a golf outing for OE, so we decided to do that. We are not a part of OE, but we do this to raise money to help support their programs.”
“That first year, it took about three weeks to get 45 foursomes together and it’s been that way ever since. We have sold out every year, and the sponsorships have grown every year. People from the community come here to help out and do great things to help.”
Kacie Ensign, development director at Opportunity Enterprises, calls it a “sell-out event.”
“Funds raised through this event are donated to OE and go to support programs that serve people with disabilities,” Ensign said. “This event sells out every single year. We have 140 golfers registered, with more than forty different businesses represented, either through foursomes, sponsorships or donations to support the event.”
Golf kicked off with a 9am registration, followed by a brisk 10am shotgun start. Following their time out on the greens, golfers were treated to lunch and dinner and also invited to take part in a silent auction. Items to be auctioned off included tickets to sporting events, a package to Journeyman Distillery, a package from Illiana Brew Bus and even original artwork created by people served by Opportunity Enterprises.
There were contests throughout the day, including a 50/50 raffle, Skins game and a Hit the Green competition. Golfers also had the opportunity to enter the hole-in-one contest, with a chance to win a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, sponsored by Harley-Davidson of Valparaiso.
Title event sponsor for this year’s event was Senator Ed Charbonneau, who invited members of the Valparaiso police and fire departments to come out and attend the event. Additional sponsors included Metro Recycling; Chester, Inc.; First Merchants Bank; CATSI, Inc.; Tranco Industrial Services; Thorgren Tool & Molding Co. Inc.; St. Mary’s Medical; and The Ross Group.
“This is, I think, the sixth or seventh year in a row that I’ve been the title sponsor for this event,” said Senator Charbonneau. “Man, talk about something that you can do that really makes a huge difference for Northwest Indiana and for the quality of life of those people who need the types of services that Opportunity Enterprises provides.”
“Opportunity Enterprises is just a fantastic organization and you can’t say enough positive things about what they do for all of us,” Senator Charbonneau said.
The cost per team was $600, with the Friends of OE hoping to raise over $30,000 to benefit OE.
“Thirty thousand dollars has an incredible impact on our bottom line,” Ensign said. “We need to raise $21 per person served per day, so that can provide quite a few days of meaningful services, providing things like education to help someone become more self-sufficient, perhaps helping them to understand technology in their daily lives, or working on skills such as communication, science, reading, cooking skills or any of the other skills they work on throughout the day. We also help people to gain job skills to help people gain experience that they may then put to use right here at OE, or put to use out in the community.”
“This is a great, fun event that people just show up for, year after year. We actually don’t promote this event at all, it’s a really loyal group that just keeps coming back every year. We are happy to welcome first-timers too, but it sells out quickly. This wouldn’t happen without the generous of such a wonderful community,” Ensign said.
Jeff Balon, chief of the Valparaiso Police Department said that he and members of his department, as well as the fire station, were happy to attend.
“This is a great event and it supports a great cause. OE is such a valuable part of our community and we are very happy to be out here, playing some golf and supporting their organization. We’re partnered up with the Valpo Fire Department, so it’s going to be a fun day,” Balon said.
“Valparaiso Country Club is such a great golf course, right here in the middle of our community, as we’re just very lucky to be able to come out here and play.”
“This is all made possible by the Friends of OE,” Ensign said. “They just really band together and work very hard to make this possible. The country club here is great for hosting this event every year. Just as a whole, the amount of community support is incredible.”
One Amazing Golf Outing is held each year on the last Monday of August. If you’d like more information about this or other events supporting OE, or if you would like more information about OE’s programs and services, visit them online at https://www.oppent.org/