During a pleasant and sunny March 11 morning, 115 golfers, including dozens of post-9/11 military Veterans teed off at at the Naples Kensington Golf & Country Club for the annual Family & Golf Outing. On the outside, the event is a golf tournament, but each swing of the club is a force easing Veterans back into a normal life.
Now in its 6th year, the fundraiser, hosted by Naples resident 4-Star U.S. Army General (ret) Fred Franks, and volunteers from the Kensington community, raised more than $130,000 for Home Base in Southwest Florida, enabling local Post-9/11 Veterans and Service Members to participate in Home Base’s Warrior Health & Fitness Program in Southwest Florida and the two-week Intensive Clinical Program (ICP) in Boston, MA.
Those who participated ranged from avid golfers to some who rarely play, but as Home Base Southwest Florida Program Manager Armando Hernandez says, the event gives businesses and individuals the chance to give back to some of the area’s Veterans and Service Members who have served- and continue to serve – our country.
“It’s nice, because in our five-person scramble, there is at least one Veteran, on every single team, so participants can actually see how their support is changing lives,” Hernandez said. “You can see the people being served, and you might even know some of the people in your community being served. That’s a big part of it, and I think that’s why the Southwest Florida community has rallied behind this annual fundraiser so well.”
This year’s golf tournament kicked off with the presentation of the Colors by the Barron Collier High School JROTC and the singing of our National Anthem by Barron Collier High School chorus member Mackensie Carr. In their opening remarks, Kensington and Home Base staff, spoke about the importance of honoring and caring for the soldiers who provided our nation’s defense, and recognized all the veterans present, who formed a long line in front of the gathering as their names were called out.
One of the veterans teeing off was Naples resident and Barron Collier High graduate Deborah Todd. From 1998 to 2006, she served in the Air Force rising to the rank of E-5 or staff sergeant. As a medic, she provided care for critical care soldiers including those who had undergone amputations, and says she couldn’t be more thankful for such a display of support. “For most service members, the job that we do is not really a job to us, it’s more of a calling, it’s a duty. And we don’t expect anything by any means, we don’t feel entitled to anything,” Todd said. “But to know we have the support of our community makes all the difference.”
After several hours on the golf course, participants and their families were invited to an evening reception which featured testimonials from Home Base alumni and Southwest Florida Veterans Sarah Cox, Karter Elliott and ,who addressed the group, thanking the donors who make Home Base’s services possible.
Cox, a U.S. Air Force Veteran is one of the 16 Southwest Florida Veterans who graduated from the Home Base 2-week Intensive Clinical Program (ICP) in Boston, MA. She says it was through Home Base – and the unwavering support of her Southwest Florida community that she was able to get her life back on track. “Through Home Base, I found the bond that I had missed being active duty. The program didn’t offer a cure, but it helped us find who we were before our invisible wounds robbed us of what we once knew”, Cox recalled. “I can never say thank you enough, but I am going to try. To all the amazing donors in this room and out in the world, thank you. Whether you gave time, a dollar or thousands of dollars, thank you. My family thanks you, my amazing daughter and family thank you, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The announcement of the General Frederick M. Franks Endowment was celebrated and
For more information on how you can get participate in Home Base’s 7th annual Family & Golf Outing at Kensington, scheduled for March 10, 2018, please contact Steve Monaco, Director of Development at Home Base.
A special “thank you” to the Kensington community for their 6th year of continuing generous and genuine support for Home Base in Southwest Florida, including the Kensington Volunteer Committee: Joe Basli, Buck Evans, Bill Lutz, Bob Marino, Bob O’Brien, and Tom O’Brien. Also, thank you to the Kensington Club leadership and staff, Dave Kryzwanos, Bret Borshell, Chef Ralph, Carol Polidora along with Dick Erick and the Kensington pro shop staff.