Charitable Golf Tournament

First-ever event rated a major success

Joe Armstrong, from left, and Matt Diamond, both with PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, and Shane Heartsill, of Osmose Utilities Services, share a laugh before the start of Wiregrass Electric Cooperative’s Operation Round Up Charitable Golf Tournament.

More than 160 players teed off to help their community at Wiregrass Electric Cooperative’s first-ever Operation Round Up Charitable Golf Tournament at the Highland Oaks Golf Course on September 8.

The final tallies are still being completed, but the tournament netted over $50,000 — the goal amount — thanks to the overwhelming support and generosity from players, local businesses and WEC vendors.

“We are just overwhelmed at the turnout at our inaugural event,” says Brad Kimbro, WEC’s chief operating officer. “This is what the Wiregrass is all about — coming together to support a great cause. Golfers played an 18-hole round of golf on a beautiful day. And if that wasn’t fun enough, the large number of door prizes donated by our local businesses upped the excitement for everyone.”

Team  Effort

Avid golfer Jim McDaniel poses with a golf ball after getting a hole-in-one while playing in the tournament.

Players enjoyed themselves as they putted around and shared laughs with friends, colleagues and co-workers. Many later complimented the helpful staff, beautiful course at Highland Oaks and generous door prizes that all contributed to the event’s successful debut.

“It was a team effort,” says David Hall, Operation Round Up Foundation board chairman. “That’s what makes this a great place to live, because of the people here. That’s why we love to call the Wiregrass area home.”

Based on anecdotal accounts, feedback about other first-time fundraisers and the amount raised, the tournament was extraordinarily successful, WEC CEO Les Moreland says.

“Everyone that partners with us responded in a positive way to support the tournament — either with a sponsorship, financial contribution or some really great door prizes,” Moreland says. “It’s a tribute to the Operation Round Up board and what a great job they’re doing in selecting projects to fund that really make a difference in helping our community. It’s pretty clear our vendors and members think they’re doing a great job putting those resources in the community.”

Operation Round Up

A WEC lineman dumps a bucket of numbered golf balls onto a bull’s-eye painted on the ground during the golf tournament’s ball drop event.

About 85% of WEC members volunteer to round their bills up to the next-highest dollar. While each household’s contribution is only around $6 per year, the foundation collects more than $120,000 annually — which is then disbursed to worthy local causes through grants, big and small.

Through members’ generosity, the Operation Round Up Foundation provides more than 20 scholarships each year, fulfills dozens of emergency grant requests and donates to hospitals, first responder units and school programs. In addition, the foundation also funds Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass — WEC’s partnership with WTVY that provides money and recognition to unsung local organizations and individuals who help their community.

Operation Round Up Foundation board members volunteer to oversee these activities, review grant applications and select awardees.

“We’ve seen these grants make tremendous impacts in our communities over the years,” Kimbro says. “While many of these contributions are immediately beneficial to local residents, a good portion of these dollars are paying dividends to future generations of the Wiregrass. The success of this program is a testament to the hearts of the people we serve.”

Raising the Bar

Members of the Providence Christian School Girls Golf Team played in the tournament alongside their coach Bill Oldfield.

Wiregrass Electric hoped to channel the program’s momentum to take that impact a little further.

“That’s the spirit of our Operation Round Up Golf Tournament,” Kimbro says. “Thanks to the generosity of others, we’ll be able to provide more scholarships, help more people in need, buy equipment for our law enforcement and first responders, provide more disaster relief — just really uplift the Wiregrass in ways that make it a better place to live, work, play and raise a family.

That’s what this is all about, and we look forward to bringing the tournament back next year.”

WEC vendors and local businesses donated many high-value door prizes that helped make the event fun and successful.

All proceeds from the tournament will stay in the Wiregrass community. Part of the money raised will help provide more scholarships to area students, while the remainder will be used to fulfill grant requests.

“There’s no way to measure what this is going to do to help people’s lives,” Hall says. “There are so many needs in this area, you can never have enough to truly address the help that everyone needs.”