What started as a chat among former co-workers about playing a round of golf the day before Thanksgiving has morphed into a major local fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
Today, more than 150 golfers take up the clubs for a purpose much beyond finding something to do on the day before Thanksgiving.
The 15th Annual Turkey Shootout Golf Tournament on Nov. 26 brings family and friends from around the U.S. to the Bridlewood Golf Course in Flower Mound for camaraderie and collaboration to raise funds for the fight against the deadly disease.
Pat Cook, Mark Behrens and Sheryl Pflaum, former co-workers in the 1990s, are the organizing power behind the 15-year event that has raised almost $100,000 – making it the second largest third-party fundraiser in North Texas. The average third party donation is around $25, Pflaum said. Last year, the group took a check to the American Cancer Society for $30,000.
Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden signed a proclamation at the town council meeting on Nov. 3 in honor of their efforts and naming Nov. 26 as the “15th Annual Turkey Shootout Golf Tournament” day for the group’s efforts on behalf of the American Cancer Society.
It was November 2000, when Cook, Pflaum and Behrens booked a tee time for a round of golf, deciding it was a good time to hit the course.
For the next six years, the group of golfers steadily grew from six the first year to 12 the next and so on as the trio collected players’ fees and poured the money back into the event – that is, until 2007 when they found $1,000 remaining after all of the expenses were covered. That year, they decided to give it to the American Cancer Society.
The decision behind dedicating proceeds to the American Cancer Society started with Mary Lou Cook, Pat Cook’s mother, who passed away after battling cancer. From 2007 on, all proceeds have gone to the American Cancer Society in honor of MLC – as noted on the annual Turkey Shootout logo, which has become a visual beacon for what the benefit is all about.
As the years have passed, Pflaum said, organizers and their families and friends and friends of those friends have had to deal with disease that now has its own lexicon in the English language.
“I think it is something that touches everybody,” Pflaum said.
Each year, Pat Cook sees the event as both a blessing and a painful reminder of his mother’s passing seven years ago.
“We have a fun day but we have a somber moment,” he said adding the outpouring of people, including those who simply donate money to the cause, is touching. “What surprises me is the willingness of everyone to donate. The generosity is heartwarming.”
One particularly memorable part of the event involves the messages many players and their families leave on the signs lining the course “in honor of” or “in memory of” someone who has dealt with cancer. The signs can be purchased for $25 by individuals wanting to honor their loved ones. The messages are others offering their own words of encouragement and support.
“It’s got a lot of heart,” Mark Behrens said of the event.
Over the years, they have made special effort to honor those who have passed because of cancer or those who are currently suffering from cancer.
The trio recalled several years ago when a foursome played the course and brought a coworker with cancer to ride along as they played. Another year, they gave a pin flag to the wife of a husband who had died of cancer.
In addition to the returning players, the trio has seen the same commitment from businesses and corporations who sponsor holes and offer a smorgasbord of goodies for the gift bags filled with everything from golf balls to mugs to sweat shirts and much more.
“Local businesses have been incredible,” Cook said. Anyone wanting to help support the event are still welcome.
Businesses donating each year range from 4Front Entrematic, SafeGuard to Market Street to Krogers, Chili’s, Day Break, Alexa Springs, Low T Center and many more.
The trio is in the process of filing for their 501c3 non-profit designation, having formed a non-profit corporation called TSO Community Foundation.
“One of the reasons we went for ‘community foundation’ is because the cancer community is our own community,” Pflaum said.
Like every Thanksgiving for the past 15 years, people are now making their holiday plans with the annual event in mind, traveling from Canada to California to Indiana to Ohio and beyond.
“It’s like a family reunion only now the family comes a day early,” Cook said.
About 100 players have signed up to be a part of the event to date and more are welcome. For information, call Behrens at 214-674-5480. Information is also available at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/15th-annual-turkey-shootout-tickets-13144534657.