When it comes to helping kids, the celebrities are more than happy to lend their status at the annual Wendy’s Golf Classic, held Friday at the Ashland Golf Club.
The event raises funds earmarked for The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Team Focus, two organizations that work with children in need.
Coming off a year when people had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, those participating in the event noted how they were looking forward to playing golf for a good cause.
None more so than Cleveland’s 1980 American League Rookie of the Year Joe Charboneau, who had to deal with his own health maladies.
“Health-wise, I got COVID, had a heart attack and stroke and got blood clots from it, but I’m feeling good now and glad I could be out here,” Charboneau said. “You’ve got to work extra hard after that because you get some of the different issues with it, the breathing, the remembering — everybody seems to have different symptoms with it.
“It’s something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. It can do a lot of damage and kill people, so it’s very scary. The unknown is always scary, and this was definitely the unknown.”
Charboneau said he enjoys playing in the Wendy’s Golf Classic each year and credits the work done by the event’s three directors — Zane Gross, Warren Jones and Kip Matteson — along with the many volunteers who have made it one of the best-run golf outings in Ohio.
“It’s such a great foundation, and what they do for the adoption of children and the Dave Thomas Foundation and the celebrities come out, and I get to see some of the guys I know from the Cleveland area, some of the former Browns, former Indians and Cavs out here,” Charboneau said. “And you get free Frosties. What’s better than free Frosties?
“And it’s such a great group of people here, and they put in so much time. Zane, Warren and Kip, and the wives who support it, the women out here, it just goes on and on, and it’s just amazing.”
A host of former Browns were on board again this year and explained why the event is dear to their hearts.
“I enjoy doing charity work, and it means a lot to give back to the community because for so many years people supported us when we were players, and we as individuals were put on this earth to give back and be missionaries in a sense,” Cleo Miller said. “Me coming from down in the south, I’ve always said if I’m in a position to give something back, I would, and I really enjoy being here today.”
“I got where I got because I had somebody help me get there, and I will always owe a debt, and that’s my responsibility to help somebody else because somebody helped me,” Greg Pruitt said. “So, anybody who puts their time and resources in to help people, you can count me in. Kids are the future of America. I tell people that, and I especially tell kids that. I’m a grandfather, and I’ve got six boys, so I was highly influenced by my grandparents, so I’ve got to pass the torch.”
“Anytime you have an opportunity to give back and participate in an event like this, why not?” said former Browns fullback Kevin Mack, who’s worked the past six to seven years with the football team’s alumni relations. “I always have fun playing in this outing, and I’ve enjoyed it, and I was happy I could get away today. I’ve transitioned over now to being a Browns Alumni Ambassador, and that means I get to do more events like this.”
Former Ohio State football player A.J. Trapasso was thrilled to participate in the golf outing.
“It’s such a nice venue,” he said. “The partnerships they have, and the adoption foundation, which is one of the primary benefactors, it’s just an incredible thing. Coming off a year like we’ve had, I can imagine it’s going to be one of the more exciting years because everybody’s been antsy to get back outside. The team here with Zane leading the charge, they’re incredible, and I try to come up as many times as I can.”
“It’s such a great cause,” former Buckeyes football player Donnie Nickey said. “To be able to serve and give back to communities who’ve supported me for so long, it’s really good. I’ve got three kids of myself, and that’s our future, and anything you can do for kids, it’s always a great thing.”
Former Buckeyes football player Andy Katzenmoyer, now the president of NFL Alumni of Central Ohio, also enjoys giving back, especially for kids.
“It’s great I can help support Zane and to help those other causes and what they’re doing, help drive people here and raise some money and give back,” he said. “And one of our missions for NFL Alumni is to help charities that help foster kids and promote kids and their development. It’s kind of a natural step to help the next generation and give them the best opportunities possible.”
Former Ashland University men’s basketball coach Rob Spivery returned to his old stomping grounds to renew old acquaintances and lend support to both organizations.
“It’s always great to come back to Ashland and see all the fine people who are here, and it gives me a chance to go back to visit the university, and this is a great cause the golf tournament represents here, and anything I can do to help the charities it supports, I’m happy to come back and participate,” Spivery said. “And that’s what it’s all about because I’ve been involved with kids all of my professional career, and I know what it’s like to grow up in a household without a father. I never knew my dad, and I was raised by my grandmother, growing up in Phoenix City, Alabama.
“It takes a community to raise a child, and Team Focus and the foundation that’s involved here with this organization, anything we can do to participate and lend a helping hand, we’re more than willing to do so. It’s not easy growing up without a father, so for us to mentor and be that father figure, it’s very good. I participate in Team Focus events in other locations as well, particularly in Mobile, Alabama, where [Team Focus founders] Mike Gottfried and Joe Gottfried live.”
This is the fifth year for the Wendy’s Golf Classic, which took over as the major sponsor in 2017. It began in 2003 as the Ashland, Ohio Charity Auction and Golf Tournament, headed up by Ashland native and Cleveland baseball broadcaster Matt Underwood.
Original posted at www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com