Golfers give from the heart to wounded warriors

By Sara Bruestle | Jul 23, 2014
Courtesy of: Rex Klein HM2 Manuel Desquitado mans the American flag at the ninth hole during the Red, White and Blue Wounded Warriors Golf Tournament on July 4. The tournament raised more than $8,500 for programs for injured service members.

Harbour Pointe Golf Club golfers have a special place in their hearts for wounded warriors.

This year’s Red, White and Blue Wounded Warriors Golf Tournament raised a record $8,500 to go toward programs for injured service members of all branches of the military.

The golf club hosted the sixth annual tournament on July 4 to raise awareness and funds for the non-profit Heartbeat – Serving Wounded Warriors.

All of the proceeds go directly to Heartbeat’s programs, providing emergency assistance, morale building and innovative therapeutic services for wounded warriors and their families in Washington state.

“We did more than $2,000 better than we did last year,” said Rob Monaco, tournament director. “It was a great, great day. Amazingly successful, raising more than $8,500 in a one-day event.”

Eighty-eight golfers from the Harbour Pointe Men’s Club and Harbour Pointe Women’s Club – as well as some locals who wandered onto the course – played 18 holes on the Fourth of July with a shotgun start.

An honor guard manned the ninth hole, flying an American flag on the pin. Many golfers thanked them for their service and made another donation to Heartbeat on the green.

World War II veteran Lt. Col. Alex Moir, now 91, shared his stories as a wounded pilot staying at a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany after his bomber was shot down.

On July 14, Harbour Pointe Golf Club players presented checks totaling more than $8,500 to Janice Buckley, founder and president of Heartbeat.

“I was just totally overwhelmed,” Buckley said of the donation. “I could not believe it. I was super pleasantly surprised.”

The Red, White and Blue Golf Tournament has been held at the golf club for about 20 years, but in 2008, Ron Monaco and Keith Coleman turned it into a fundraiser for Heartbeat.

Monaco is a member of the Harbour Pointe Men’s Club and Coleman is the club’s superintendent of golf. As a tradition, they kick off the tournament by playing with wounded warriors.

“The club paid for one of our wounded warriors to play,” Buckley said. “Golf for him is therapy.

“He told me that when he’s lining up the ball and [hitting] the ball, he has to really focus on that, so it helps him not think of all the bad things [from war].”

Monaco, himself, is a wounded warrior who served in Vietnam on the USS Hornet. He said the tournament is his way of giving service members the dignity and support they deserve. He didn’t get it when he came home.

“The way the troops were treated coming home from Vietnam was disgusting,” he said. “The only thing we got was people to spit on us.

“This is an ongoing deal for these people. They suffer traumatic injuries that are going to be with them their whole life.

“They need help for years and years to come, and we’ve still got people coming back.”

In six years, the tournament has raised about $21,300 for wounded warriors. Last year, it raised $6,000, also a record year.

“My personal goal – and if I [raise] one more dollar then I did last year, it’s successful – but, in my heart, I want to break $10,000,” Monaco said.

Local corporate sponsors matched donations made all year in Wounded Warrior piggy banks around the golf club. This year, golfers donated about $4,800 to the banks.

The sponsors were Karmichael Auto Salon, North Creek Roofing, Degginger McIntosh Insurance, Carey Brothers Rockeries LLC, Clay Enterprises and Express Construction Co.

After 9/11, Buckley was inspired to support military families and, in 2004, she founded Operation Homefront Washington, a chapter of the national Operation Homefront organization.

Then Buckley realized the organization could do more for wounded military men and women if the focus was fully on them.

In 2009, OHWA left the national organization and changed its name to Heartbeat – Serving Wounded Warriors to reflect its new mission. It serves up to 5,000 injured service members and their families every year.

“It’s a grassroots organization,” Buckley said. “When I started it, it was totally by God’s grace. He deserves the credit. I started out baking brownies [for military families], and it evolved into this.”

This was the first year the tournament had a shotgun start and an auction. In addition to a game of golf, players had a barbecue lunch and opportunity to win prizes. Wounded warriors who attended also got a free lunch.

“It becomes a family party with wounded warriors,” Monaco said. “It’s a terrific opportunity to thank them and make their day special.”

The goal for next year is to have 120 golfers sign up to play – even if they aren’t members of the club.

“Although golfers were predominantly from the men’s and women’s clubs, you don’t have to be a member to play in the tournament,” Monaco said. “It’s an event that’s open to everybody.”

If you’d like to play in next year’s tournament, call 1-800-233-3128. A portion of your green fee goes to Heartbeat. For more information, go to www.heartbeatforwarriors.org.

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