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CLINE: People worth playing for

Todd Cline

Todd Cline

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Click here to view a "Who Do You Play Fore" testimonial.

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Special Photo The American Cancer Society Tournament of Hope has adopted a "Who Do You Play Fore" campaign that allows golfers to designate a person or loved one they are representing at the tournament.

After years of playing in charity golf tournaments, I've spent the past four as a member of a committee that puts one on. It's an interesting juxtaposition being a planner vs. a player.

You quickly learn that all the things you take for granted as a participant -- the food, the awards, etc. -- don't just randomly occur. Teams don't just show up. And volunteers don't just appear out of thin air.

But like anything, the work that goes into it makes the satisfaction in pulling it off greater. It is with much satisfaction, then, that I can say that this year's American Cancer Society Tournament of Hope -- held Monday at Berkeley Hills Country Club in Duluth -- grossed more than $60,000. It's a record amount for the seven-year event, with the proceeds going to the ACS for, among other things, the Hope Lodge program.

Led by chairman Brian Kelleher -- a proud Parkview alum -- the smallish tournament committee put forth an effort greater than the sum of its parts. The result was an enjoyable outing that raised not only money, but (we hope) awareness. As a reporter, I was trained to tell stories without bias, but as a committee member there is no such charge. That said, I believe that this tournament (and other ACS events like it) are unique in the message that is given in addition to the money raised.

For one thing, the Tournament of Hope features an honoree each year who shares his or her story. After hearing that, we have a balloon release where blue balloons are set free in honor of those fighting cancer and white ones in memory of loved ones lost to the disease. It's a poignant moment, to be sure.

We also strive to get information about ACS programs out during the tournament, utilizing hole signs to relay cancer facts and ways to get help. The hope is that on a day like Monday just one person uses that info to get checked out or urge someone else to do the same.

One part of our tournament that is unique -- and that we are all proud of -- is our "Who Do You Play Fore?" campaign. Using golfing parlance as a play on words, the idea is the very crux of the ACS' large volunteer base -- that we are inspired to help because of someone who had or has cancer.

The idea is to honor and remember that person during the round. Last year, bag tags bearing that person's name were given out; this year it was a cover for your putter. At one hole, players could sign that name to a board, which was covered by tournament's end. It was then displayed during dinner, with everyone getting see each other's inspiration. It was an impressive sight, saying much more than our scorecards ever could.

It struck me on the way home from the tournament that it's a question to ask yourself more often than once a year. One that can serve as a nice inspiration and gentle reminder of purpose regardless of cancer. As golf giveaways go, that isn't too shabby.

If you like the idea of sharing your inspiration and helping raise funds to fight cancer at the same time, let me know, and I can help you get a spot in next year's tourney.

And if you're really brave, I can get you on the committee.

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.