This story starts back in 1922.
That’s the year when a small group of Sacramento-based doctors combined their professional connections and their Rotary Club memberships to form a program that is now the longest-running Rotary fundraiser in the country.
Those Sacramento Rotarian doctors started a fundraising event to provide medical services and braces for orthopedically-challenged children. Then, beginning in 1986, the fundraiser became an annual golf tournament. In 2005, it was renamed “Golf 4 Kids.” Today, Golf 4 Kids is a successful fundraiser supporting the differently-abled children’s programs at four local schools: Ralph Richardson Center, Luther Burbank High School, Fern Bacon Middle School and Bowling Green Charter School.
The Rotary Foundation, which organizes the event, is the charity arm of the Sacramento Rotary Club. In 1922, when the fundraiser was just a club-sponsored event, members raised just over $1,900 (the equivalent of nearly $3 million today), and has distributed more than $4 million since it began. When the foundation was incorporated in 1971, the annual event became a foundation fundraiser. Last year, members raised $39,317.
“I think it reflects a clearly defined need in the community,” says Jim Leet, president of the foundation. “It’s a discreet need, but an important one.”
Funds from the event support the children’s programs in a variety of ways, but most often by providing specialized computers, keyboards and communication devices. There is also a need for wheelchairs — such as those operated merely by head movements. Other money goes toward equipment and activities that the four schools cannot cover on their own.
Bob Miller, chairman for the event, says nearly 100 golfers participate every year. This year’s Golf 4 Kids was held on Aug. 7 at Valley Hi Country Club in Elk Grove. As usual, Miller began the day by reading out the story of how the event started to all of the golfers and children present, to help them understand the “essence” of the tournament.
“Parents bring their children out and they assist with selling raffle tickets and really just being present to meet our golfers,” Miller says. “Everyone participating can meet these kids and their families and see what kind of an impact their donations have.”
Many of the tools that are necessary in these special classes are technical and expensive, Miller says. This year, some of the funds raised from the tournament will go toward a special, adaptive physical education program at the Ralph Richardson Center and Luther Burbank High School that will pay for special bikes, mats and other equipment to improve mobility and independence.
“People really have become attached to the tournament and enjoy knowing the funds go directly to these kids,” foundation vice president Jeannie Reese says.