40 years of golf and giving

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Late Sunday afternoon on May 18, a triumphant PGA tour professional will hoist a trophy and pocket a check for $990,000 as the winner of the AT&T Classic at the Tournament Players Club at Sugarloaf.

Off-camera, and smiling just as big, will be the leaders, volunteers and recipients from the area charities that benefit greatly from the philanthropic mindset of tournament organizer, The Atlanta Classic Foundation, and the PGA Tour. The Classic will mark its 40th anniversary this year when it opens May 12 at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth.

The tournament has raised more than $16 million for local charities since 1981. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) has been the signature charity of the event for the past 19 years, having received more than $13 million in charitable donations from the tournament alone.

Over the years, CHOA has used the contributions from the tournament to advance their services in hematology/oncology, brain tumor services, heart diagnostic equipment, facilities expansion and more. Included in the expansion are two satellite offices in Gwinnett and the new immediate care center in Duluth.

“Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta had more than 66,000 visits from Gwinnett patients last year,” says Scott Hodoval, vice president of development for CHOA. The healthcare organization also provided $81 million in unreimbursed care, with $4 million provided to Gwinnett patients.

“With Gwinnett County growing so fast, the pediatric population is expected to increase significantly in the next two years. We are certainly reaching out to Gwinnett to provide the community with the best pediatric care possible,”  Hodoval says.

The funds raised by the tournament might not be possible without the help of Executives for Children’s (E4C), a volunteer organization comprised of Atlanta area business leaders who sell ticket packages, Pro-Am spots, hospitality and advertising for the AT&T Classic.

Tony Randall, a sales executive in the Gwinnett community, is a volunteer with E4C and knows first hand how important the charitable aspect of the golf tournament is.

Randall’s eldest son, Drew, was diagnosed in 1998 with a very rare disease called Wegener’s Granulomatis, a chronic condition that inflames the blood vessels that go to organs in the body.

Thanks to doctors associated with CHOA, his son’s condition was diagnosed quickly and has been managed through proper medication and follow-up care.

“Being involved in E4C is my way of giving back to the fine people of the medical staff who work to find answers to cancers, transplant issues and things like my son’s medical condition,” Randall says.

“If you’re a parent in Gwinnett, you’ve probably been to a CHOA facility or physician. I think it’s part of my future to do what I can to help the children of today and even the unborn children of our community,” he adds.

While CHOA benefits greatly from the tournament, other organizations are earning charitable dollars as well. The Brookwood High School band raised $98,000 last year through the Birdies for Charity program.

The three-pronged program helps local organizations like high school marching bands, garden clubs, animal shelters, churches and more to raise charitable donations.

In a nutshell, the AT&T Classic provides all materials for these organizations to raise money, so there are no out-of-pocket expenses. The organizations request pledges for each birdie made during the tournament. The Classic tracks the birdies made – more than 18,000 in 2007 – over the course of the event.

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