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Golf for Miracles

There is only one tournament my lovely bride encourages me to partake in, and I have taken full advantage for the past eight Memorial Day Weekends. My friends and I take an annual road trip to State College to tee it up for the kids. This year’s roster included three of my finest chums and I always invite those who are in good standing with my nine-year-old son.

Sweet-swinging Paul McGinn and I have known each other for a very long time. We coached hoops together and even called a few games. I always enjoy his company and Jensen thinks he is a good egg.

Bob Spangler, Jr. would rather fish, but he made this year’s cut. Bobby taught Jensen how to throw a hanging curve, and my former best friend is now my boss. He also got the nod because we all wanted to see if the long baller could hit the Re/MAX balloon with another errant tee shot.

I won’t mention the other because he played hooky, and I know for a fact his supervisor reads Webb Weekly.

While the others were loading their clubs and working on their games, I tracked down tournament director Annie Foytack for a yearly embrace. Annie is an amazing person who has actively helped with the CMN outing since 2003. We hardly know one another, but we are super tight, and our families share a very special bond.

I first met Annie in 2009. Her son Caleb arrived about the same time as Jensen did. Both were born premature and had extended stays in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I don’t know about Caleb, but Jensen was there for 82 very long days. It was an early struggle for both of these youngsters.

Our families hit it off right away, and our friendship continues to sprout like our busy nine-year-old boys. They live in State College, and young Caleb now plays tons of baseball too. I love seeing the Foytacks each year and enjoy swapping stories about the two miracle NICU bunkmates.

As far as the actual tournament — I managed to hit a few decent shots, made a long putt and my friends carried TEAM JENSEN to another impressive finish. We didn’t capture the title by a match of cards, but everyone’s a winner on this very special occasion.

My friends at the Re/MAX Centre Realty have been raising funds for the Children’s Miracle Network with this event since 1997. They started small, but now this golf outing fills both the Penn State Blue and White Courses in State College. I was one of 228 to tee it up on Thursday. Impressive Annie.

Hundreds have participated in the previous 21 CMN tournaments, and the great folks from Re/MAX have brought in nearly $510,000 for a great cause. Annie tells me 2018’s number is close to $26K. Well done.

ALL of these proceeds go to the Children’s Miracle Network of Geisinger, which ultimately helps the many children at Janet Weis. The funding provides high-tech additions, money for research, amazing family programs, and exceptional services. Recent purchases from tournament dollars include cardiovascular ultrasound equipment, brand new ventilators for the neonatal intensive care unit, language interpretation equipment and much more.

A big shout out to the many corporate partners throughout the lower 48. The Children’s Miracle Network raises more than $250 million combined each year. There are 170 hospitals affiliated with Children’s Miracle Network and these donations flow directly to its participants.

“A Celebration of Miracles” is an annual telethon the first weekend in June. This nationally televised event features many local segments from our dear friends at Janet Weis. Many universities host annual Dance Marathons events to help support, and the Miss America Organization has also made Children’s Miracle Network its national platform. All girls competing at every level are required to raise funds in order to participate. I didn’t qualify.

Props to my man Gary Chrisman and KISS FM. They do a local phonation on the radio every spring to benefit the CMN. Gary and the boy have been doing this for 13 years, and they have tallied over $200,000 for our kids. OK. I might be biased, but the Children’s Miracle Network is second to none.

My favorite part of the annual pilgrimage to State College is the special program that follows the golf. I get to touch base with some of Jensen’s amazing doctors and update them on his progress. It also provides an opportunity to chat and mingle with other MIRACLE families. Sometimes Annie even invites me to speak, and it gets ugly.

I absolutely love being in front of a crowd and will never shy away from a mic, but this particular setting tends to leave me hanging. Jensen joined me on stage four years ago, and it was quite a memory. I began to stutter, and thankfully he came to the rescue by covering my mouth. It was grand, and the crowd enjoyed it.

I honestly don’t remember what I told the 300 who were in attendance that evening. I seriously doubt I made much sense either. I was mumbling. The words didn’t flow, and I was losing my audience. I only wanted to tell these folks how much the CMN meant to my family.

I completely choked up about halfway through Jensen’s story. Everything became very awkward. I stood there in complete silence for a few short moments. I lost my composure and started to sob. I quickly closed my remarks by simply thanking everyone for playing. Exit stage left. I was so embarrassed, but the entire crowd absolutely loved it. Cheers.

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