WALLA WALLA — Terri Camp has always had a special place in her heart for military families.
So when Camp spotted a Patriot Golf Day commercial on TV last summer while watching a PGA tournament, a light bulb came on. The idea of local involvement in the national fund-raising endeavor seemed only natural.
“I got interested,” Camp said. “So I visited their website where there is an extensive explanation of what Patriot Golf Day is all about.
“At the same time, I also realized that no one in Walla Walla was participating.”
So Camp, who plays golf regularly at the Walla Walla Country Club, approached country club pro Lisa Hyland about her idea. Hyland took the project to the club’s board of directors, got approval and the first Patriot Golf Day at the club will be recognized on Saturday, Sept. 1.
Patriot Golf Day is the flagship fund-raiser for the Folds of Honor Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that provides post-secondary educational scholarships for the children and spouses of U.S. military men and women disabled or killed while serving their country.
Dan Rooney, a former F-16 fighter pilot who also happens to be a golf professional, launched Patriot Golf Day in 2007 when he asked golfers at more than 3,200 facilities across the nation to contribute $1 on top of their green fees to his foundation. More than $1.1 million was raised that first year.
Since then, Patriot Golf Day donations have garnered in excess of $12.8 million and resulting in 2,600 recipients from all 50 states. One of those recipients was the 6-year-old son of Brock Bucklin, who was killed in Iraq.
Rooney was a passenger on a commercial flight that brought Bucklin’s remains home to Michigan on a rainy night in June of 2006. And he was a witness when the 28-year-old corporal’s coffin was unloaded from the plane and met by a grieving family.
“It will be forever burned in my soul,” Rooney said. “That hits you in a real way.
“And when I got off that plane, I called my wife and told her I have in mission in life. I don’t know what I am going to do, but I’m going to help that family I just saw.”
And many, many more as it has turned out. Among them will be the children of Walla Wallan Mat Fazzari, who was killed in Afghanistan in June of this year.
As part of the Walla Walla Country Club’s Patriot Golf Day recognition, there will be a special Inside the Circle competition on the par-3 eighth hole. Players can wager whatever sum they choose that they can place their tee shot inside a circle that will be drawn around the pin on that hole.
All proceeds will go directly to the Fazzari family.
“We just thought it would be important and timely to contribute something to a local family and to honor Mat,” Camp said.
All other Patriot Golf Day contributions will be collected on the first and 10th tees, and golfers will be able to contribute any amount of money they choose. And those not able to play golf that day are also urged to make a contribution.
Camp is hopeful that Walla Walla’s other two golf courses, Veterans Memorial Golf Course and Wine Valley Golf Club, will follow her lead.
“That way, all of our residents can participate,” she said.
The Milton-Freewater Municipal Golf Course has been a Patriot Golf Day participant for the last three years and will do so again this year, according to M-F pro George Gillette. The M-F course will be recognizing the fund-raiser on Sunday, Sept. 2, Gillette said.
It will be a busy Saturday for Camp and her team of volunteers, who will be present on the first and 10th tees as well as the No. 8 tee.
“It will be a full day of just being at the golf course,” she said. “But Lisa has done most of the groundwork. She has really done the lion’s share of the work.
“I have a group of 10 people who have volunteered to help out,” Camp added. “That’s about what it will take. And everyone else is ex-military. I am just proud to be in that group.”
Camp’s military connection is her grandfather, who served in the Korean War.
“He always wanted me to work with veterans,” Camp said. “I also have a special friendship with a local businessman who is a veteran and is dear to my life.
“This just seems like such a worthwhile cause to honor families who are left behind.”