The American Outreach Foundation has been providing wheelchairs to Coachella Valley veterans and low-income seniors for ten years. This year, they partnered up with Thunderbird Country Club for the first annual American Outreach Golf Invitational
"They talked to me early on about putting together a special tournament to benefit the disabled veterans,” executive tournament director Dan Mechem explained. “I said you know there are so many charity events out here for golf, if I do it, I want to make it special. So, I said first thing we need to do is find a great club. I thought Thunderbird was perfect. I talked to them and they said absolutely, let’s do it. Then it was really going about the tasks of what are some other aspects that we can do over the weekend."
One aspect was growing the game of golf.
"A lot of people don't know that golf in this area is really on decline,” Dan Mechem said. “So, I talked to a lot of these golf luminaries, some of the top minds in the area, some of them celebrities, and said let’s do a panel and lets address this. I really feel like in five to ten years if we don't do anything about growing the game of golf, this whole area can go into economic decline, maybe even recession. Courses are going out of business, some even five miles from here are going brown, so I feel like it is our responsibility to grow the game."
the panel included former LPGA Commissioner Charles Mechem, Al Geiberger also known as Mr. 59, former professional golfer Clive Clark, and former LPGA golfer Liselotte Neumann.
“Is it (golf) a financial part of people's struggle?” Nuemann asked. “Is it time consuming? Is it trying to get more women involved? It's probably a little of everything there.”
"We are going to work to grow the game with women, with men, and with millennials,” Dan Mechem said. “Then I think more broadly we want people to realize that this organization, being the American Outreach Foundation, you know what we have to help these veterans.”
"To give someone the ability to go from point A to point B all by their selves without requiring anyone’s assistance is really life changing,” American Outreach Foundation Vice President Victoria Llort explained. “Especially if you've been dependent on either a family member, a co-worker, or a help service worker to help you. Being able to do that by yourself all over again totally just changes a person, gives them freedom all over again, and the ability to really live their life to the fullest.”
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