Community Rallies to Make Inaugural “Golf Aid” Tournament a Success for Alex’s Lemonade
Posted on September 11, 2012
Resulting in a tremendous turnout, relatives, friends and community members rallied around organizers of the inaugural “Golf Aid” Golf Tournament held September 9, at Tower Ridge in Simsbury, Connecticut. The event benefited Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a non-profit organization formed to raise awareness and funds to fight childhood cancer. Hampered early on by slow registration and a family crisis, the tournament was nearly scrapped. But by Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. shotgun start, the golfing roster was full.
“We have 110 golfers,” said a beaming Sue Bowman, a Windsor, Conn. police officer and the event’s primary organizer.
“I said to Sue, ‘no, even if it is just four of us, do not cancel it. Move forward with this tournament,’ ” recalled Ann Baldwin, as she prepared to tee off at the 14th hole.
A former television news anchor for NBC Connecticut who now runs her own Newington-based public relations firm, Baldwin was among a core group of the faithful who helped keep plans for the tournament alive. She even enlisted a retired golf pro, Ron Urban, to join her golfing foursome which included, John Carmon, owner of Carmon Funeral Homes in the Greater Hartford area, and his wife Linda.
Organizers were dealt an emotional blow in July when Bill Walsh, the husband of a key individual to the tournament, Ann Walsh, was himself diagnosed with cancer after being rushed to the emergency room where a large brain tumor was discovered. Despite dealing with their own fears and uncertainty about what lay ahead for Bill, the Walshs’ thoughts remained focused on children battling this disease and the ongoing need to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. To honor their parents’ wishes that the tournament go on, Bill’s and Ann’s eight children
increased their involvement, especially their son Jim Walsh.
“He became me, knocking on doors. And that will continue,” Ann Walsh said Sunday.
In addition to the strong participation, Sunday’s event was graced with sunny skies and a heartwarming visit from Bill Walsh. Having successfully made it through surgery to remove the mass from his brain, and with rehabilitation therapy completed, Bill is now undergoing radiation treatment. A chemical engineer retired from his position with Pratt & Whitney, Bill is a volunteer coach at Granby Memorial High School in Granby, Conn. Under the circumstances, he said he is doing well.
“Yes, it was a shock,” he said, “I was still coaching in June.”
Inside the restaurant at Tower Ridge with wife Ann by his side, the only discernible difference in Bill was his new buzz haircut.
At the tournament there were Walsh family members everywhere. Walsh sons and daughters, grandchildren and a son-in-law could all be found out on the course, or indoors helping at the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation mementos table – also to benefit the charity.
Joining Jim Walsh’s foursome were Keith Samolyk, Will Hoddinott and Jim Ennis. Mike Deneen, part owner of the Union Street Tavern in Windsor was on hand too, joined by T.J.Selig, Paul Hansen and Paul Murray. The Union Street Tavern is hosting the 6th Annual Tavern Trot, 3.5 mile road race this Sunday, September 16. Proceeds from the race will, as well, benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. (For more information go to:unionstreettavern.com/taverntrot.) Another foursome was Windsor High School golf coach Gregg Hannan with Gary Barcher, Carlos Salmon and Matt Tatelman.
For many of those who took part, ALSF has a personal connection. It was founded by Alexandra “Alex” Scott, before losing her fight with cancer in 2004 at age 8. Little Alex was the daughter of Jay and Liz Flynn Scott who grew up in Windsor.
“We went through this journey with the Scotts but it is not the same, our perception was entirely different.
The emotional part didn’t really hit us until we began our own journey,” Ann Walsh said.
After her husband was diagnosed, Ann Walsh said she received an e-mail from Jay and Liz Scott. Alex’s aunt, Patty Flynn Hustus, who stopped by the Golf Aid tourney spent some time talking with Ann and Bill.
“It’s amazing that eight years after Alex died, things like this tournament are still being done,” she said, “Other than Alex’s own parents, Ann Walsh is the person who has done so much.”
According to the ALSF website, to date the organization has raised more than $55 million. The money has gone to fund cutting-edge research, creation of a travel program to help support families of children receiving treatment and to develop resources “to help people everywhere.”