When coming up with ideas for fundraisers, nonprofit organizations often need to give a lot of "fore" thought about to how to attract donors and participants. The result may be a golf outing.

Orthopedic Center of Illinois Foundation's Chip in Fore Charity golf outing was "created as an opportunity to raise funds for the OCI's Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting the advancement of musculoskeletal care and healthy lifestyles for central Illinois communities," stated Megan Smith, OCI's director of marketing and communications. "OCIF provides grants to charitable organizations and scholarships for medical education."

click to enlarge Golfing for a cause
Left to right: Dr. Timothy VanFleet, president of the Orthopedic Center of Illinois, presents a check from the Orthopedic Center of Illinois Foundation’s Chip in Fore Charity golf outing to Clint Paul, president and CEO of Hope, and Jodi Ogilvy, chief communications and development officer at Hope.

Chip in Fore Charity beneficiaries are chosen each year, said Smith, and all central Illinois nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply to be the grant recipient. Applications typically open in April and can be accessed on the foundation's website (www.ocif.net). Previous beneficiaries have included HOPE, Springfield Zoological Society, YMCA, Central Illinois Foodbank, Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Illinois, Contact Ministries, Southwind Park, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois and several other groups. Grants are typically $20,000.

This September, OCI will hold its 21st outing. Smith explained the event is not open to the public and typically includes 100-120 golfers, all of whom are physicians, patients (by invitation only) or employees of corporate sponsors. In order to golf in this event, an organization must sponsor at a level that includes complimentary golfers.

"The most challenging part of hosting this event is simply keeping track of all the details since there's a lot of moving parts, and making sure everything stays on schedule," said Smith. "The most enjoyable part is putting together swag bags for our golfers and making sure all of our sponsors get the recognition and day-of experience they deserve. Being able to give $20,000 to a local nonprofit organization is pretty amazing, too."

Also on par with this type of event is SIU Medicine's Department of Pediatrics' On Par for Pediatrics golf outing, formerly known as the Camp COCO golf outing. It will take place at The Rail Golf Course June 3. Registration begins in April.

"Camp COCO was unable to continue in light of COVID-19, as it was an obvious danger for children with cancer to assemble," explained Erin Cox, SIU Medicine events coordinator. "Patient care and safety is the utmost priority at SIU Pediatrics."

However, SIU Pediatrics still needed a fundraiser to help those children and their families, regardless of whether the camp could continue or not. The decision was made to expand the fundraiser to include not only children with cancer, but children with other diseases such as blood disorders, heart defects, diabetes and more. "In 2022, On Par for Pediatrics came to life, and our community has done a wonderful job helping us support our most fragile patients since that time," said Cox.

Isabella Silver with SIU Medicine's office of marketing, communication and engagement, added, "Funds raised at this year's golf outing will support pediatric patients and their families, easing their financial burdens by providing overnight lodging, food or transportation for families whose child is receiving extended treatment."

Information on the event can be reviewed at https://www.siumed.edu/foundation/par-pediatrics-golf-outing.

"Since our Camp COCO fund is self-sustaining, we wanted to extend our reach to cover a wide range of patient needs from infant to teens in central Illinois," added Cox. The SIU Medicine Women and Children's Clinic can provide non-perishable items for families with food insecurities as well as home essential items including cribs and mattresses, blankets, diapers, formula, car seats and clothing.

"We also offer financial assistance for urgent medical needs waiting for insurance approval and other types of care not covered by insurance such as diabetes care that requires insulin sensors, insulin pumps and growth hormones. Our list of items is continuously evaluated and continues to grow based on our current families' needs. For patients with hospital stays, we can assist families as needed with transportation and hospital cafeteria meals."

Similarly, the Heart of Wes Barr Foundation provides items for agencies Wes Barr held near and dear to his heart. The foundation raises funds to purchase goods and supplies for social service agencies, law enforcement, veterans' organizations and animal protection agencies. Barr was a law enforcement officer who was active in many nonprofit organizations in the Springfield community before his death in 2019.

His widow, Sherry Barr, recalled, "A few of Wes's friends contacted me and wanted to do a fundraiser in his honor, and I asked them to hold off just a little. I was already thinking about starting a foundation and wanted them to be on the board. The golf outing was the first fundraiser the Heart of Wes Barr did once we got our nonprofit status." This year marks its fifth golf outing, which will be held in September (See http://theheartofwesbarr.org).

Board member Flynn Hanners stated that 100-120 golfers participate, which they recruit from the community, many of whom knew Barr. "Wes was a golfer and many of the players are friends and admirers of his," he said. "They play to help keep his memory alive and to help the community at large."

Janet Seitz is a local communications professional, writer and artist. To share your story, contact her at [email protected].

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