LaGRANGE — When golfers tee up Thursday at Highland Country Club, it will not be just to perfect their swing, score a hole-in-one or take home the top prize.
Instead, these amateur athletes are playing with one cause in mind: they are all supporting the Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia, a United Way agency. The event is the sixth annual Back A Kid Golf Tournament.
“The event is truly to raise operation money for the club’s three locations. One hundred percent of the money will go to support the kids and the programs we provide for them,” explained Bart McFadden, Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia chief professional officer. “It is also a good opportunity to promote the work we do, the success we’re having and to further our work.”
McFadden said this year’s event is the largest one ever and is sold out with 36 teams of golfers set to hit the greens on Thursday.
Three years ago the organization made $12,000 from the fundraiser. This year, the group is already set to rake in close to $30,000 from the event, McFadden stated. The growth of the event matches the recent expansion of the Boys and Girls Club into Chambers County, Alabama, and the addition of nearly 100 club members at all the West Georgia club sites, which include LaGrange and Hogansville.
“It’s been fantastic,” McFadden said. “Our organization merging with the already existing club (in Valley, Alabama). We’ve been improving the programs in that club. We’ve eliminated the overhead costs … Valley has doubled its members from 40 last year to 80 members this year.”
The Boys and Girls Club has also been able to unite with more community partners like the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra, West Georgia Health and the Lafayette Society for Performing Arts. McFadden said these collaborations allow the clubs to bring educational programs and unique opportunities to students that also allow them to seek their full potential and possible future career.
“For us, it’s growing the quality,” he noted. “Not only are we starting programs, we are sustaining them … but for us it’s about how do we sustain them and make them better?
“We’re giving kids the opportunity to be engaged in programs that they wouldn’t be otherwise,” McFadden continued. “That’s very vital to us … and the community support is going to help them do better … We appreciate the community. The $30,000 we collect is going to allow us to serve more kids, more often. We’re already open 240 days a year and we’ll be able to continue to offer better programs.”
The Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia Back A Kid Golf Tournament is Thursday at the Highland Country Club. The event’s title sponsor is Kia of LaGrange. The fundraiser is sold out.
Anyone wishing to sponsor a club member by helping to pay their annual dues, make a donation or looking for more information can visit the Boys and Girls Club website at www.begreatwestgeorgia.org.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.