4th Annual Golf for the Cure for Parkinson’s Disease

Look at that crowd.
Look at that crowd.

Once again it was a beautiful day at the golf course. The sun was shining, with slight breeze and 240 neighbors and friends descended on both Lake Ashton golf courses. Signs were made, player scorecards were made, orange juice and doughnuts (breakfast of champions in retirement) were served, and all those tiny little details were attended to.

How did it get ready? Volunteers were the answer. Oh yeah and family helped a little. Actually Cecily and I returned from the doughnut run before 7 a.m. and picked up the trailer full of supplies and met everyone else at the pro shop.

I guess now is the time to give a shout out to Stephanie Paddock from The Michael J Fox Foundation. She was not just a pretty face, but she worked from beginning to end of the event doing everything we asked. She even lied to the golfers and told them how good I was at golf. I try to go around and hit a golf shot with each team. This year, my good shots used increased by 25%. (5 verses 4 out of 60 shots). Steph acted as my witness (therefore the liar claim).

Stephanie Paddock from the MJFF worked just as hard as the rest of us during the event.
Stephanie Paddock from the MJFF worked just as hard as the rest of us during the event.

One of the best things we added to the golf event this year was the replacement of the flags on both 18th greens with American flags. Our local veterans group the Lake Ashton Veterans Association manned (and womened) the greens to receive the flags from the golfers. These were not the young heroes of our latest conflicts. These were the World War II, Vietnam, and Korea folks. As part of this honor guard, a vet with PD from our community manned their stations (both men were there for the entire 4 hours). One of them got PD as a result of Agent Orange. He has had PD the longest, and as you would expect has the most challenges. He stood and saluted each golfer as they left the green (yeah I cried too).
Two vets with PD stayed at the 18th holes, shaking hands for 4 hours.
Two vets with PD stayed at the 18th holes, shaking hands for 4 hours.

With two courses we were able to finish the entire tournament in 4 hours, which may be some kind of speed record. We served a hot meal (Steph served at least half of the players), played a video I made with my daughter Kate and her paper’s award winning photo journalist, Jason Plotkin, made speeches (yep Steph again), held a raffle, and a silent auction.

As the facilitator of this event, I receive the accolades for our success. A number of people helped with the fundraising (a key to our success), as well as the pre-event work load. I could not have succeeded without them, because this year I tried to be superman (again) and faltered in the home stretch. My daughter, Kate, forced me to hydrate and eat at the luncheon (so I wouldn’t pass out). That is where the true heroes in our event stood strong and jumped into the breach. As we concluded the festivities, we began the clean-up phase (usually two to three hours), my friends came to me took my car keys (not a DUI) and sent me home. To them I am eternally grateful. I also promised to be a better friend next year and to let them help earlier.

That brings me to the results of this effort. First of all, you must understand that our community is 1,450 homes, small-town America. The money that we raised came from the normal places. But it also came from unusual sources — a radio-controlled motor boat regatta, and a neighborhood wine tasting. I feel like a pickpocket after the three months leading up to the event, because if my hands were not in my pockets, my friends, neighbors, and even strangers who became friends were putting money in my hands.

There are two people who stand out in my mind, who will never be identified (at their request). One is my platinum sponsor (over $5,000) and my “rounder” (a person who rounds us up to a number of his/her choice). The other invisible partner in the whole event is the Michael J Fox Foundation. Not because of its namesake, but because of its efficiency and approach to research that affords us the best opportunity to find the cure.

Oh yeah .. want to know the results? This year we were able to send $50,000 to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, bringing our 4 year total to $150,000 (including the Brin- Wojciki Challenge inn 2012).

Thank you all for your support and this shows me that WE ARE NOT ALONE!



About bobharmon49

Parkinson’s Cure Research Funding, Inc. (“PCRF”) was founded in November, 2010 as a non-profit corporation dedicated to raising money for Parkinson’s disease research and patient support. The corporation’s main fundraising event is an annual golf tournament held in April at the Lake Ashton community in Winter Haven and Lake Wales, Florida. Proceeds from the event have been donated to the Michael J Fox Foundation. Prior to forming PCRF the first golf tournament was held in April 2009 and we raised $12,000. The second tournament in April 2010 raised $27,000. Our next tournament will be held on April 7, 2012. At each of the first two golf outings, 215 players filled the two 18 hole golf courses at Lake Ashton. PCRF was founded by Bob and Cecily Harmon. Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2006 and is still very active playing golf and working to help find a cure for PD through fund-raising. He has recently been named to the Southwest Florida Regional Council of the Michael J Fox Foundation. Their mission is to drive ideas about local engagement opportunities to increase Parkinson’s Disease awareness, enhance education efforts and connect with untapped resources to develop the overall expansion of the Fox Foundation in Florida. The Harmon’s facilitate the Lake Ashton Parkinson’s Outreach Group which supports local Parkinson’s patients and their care partners. The group meets on the first Friday of every month at 10am at Lake Ashton and is open to the Parkinson’s community in the general public.

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