Dataw Island Supports Veterans
The tally is totaled and we are floored! Dataw Island members and supporters once again joined forces to raise monies for veterans foundations through various events, and we are pleased to announce that the efforts have already yielded $65,585 in donations, with a few more pledges expected to trickle in throughout the week. Funds will be distributed to various veterans’ organizations through Tee It Up for the Troops, an organization that has granted $9,000,000 to many different organizations around the country who serve veterans, after they have been vetted and deemed within the organizations missions of helping veterans: heal, transition, grow and thrive.
Dataw Island’s week-long Veterans Celebration kicked off Sunday morning with members lining 2.5 miles of roadways with 3,500 flags to set a patriotic ambiance on the island and to usher in veterans with due pomp and circumstance.
That evening, members gathered in the Pub for a cheery time with guest bartenders – local “favorites” (also known as Dataw staff!) Ted Bartlett, GM; Kevin Ennis, Director of the Community Center; Abby Rodgers, Director of Catering and Special Events; Dave Britton, Director of Golf; Arthur Aldridge; Director of Security; and, Dataw members Jim Morrissey and Bob Hopkins.
Monday morning rolled around very early for some, who came out to support Chris Fearn’s one-man Golf Marathon, which this year supported Tee It Up for the Troops. Attempting to best his record of 219 holes in one day, Fearn got a jump on the day by teeing off before 4:00 am and playing by the light of golf cart headlights for the first couple hours. He also decided to stick to two holes while golfing in the dark – a move which made it easier to keep lights in place, and it also gave golf maintenance the time needed to set up the rest of the course.
Spotting for him, cheering him on, and occasionally holding an umbrella or drying a ball while he played through afternoon squalls, member volunteers were critical to his success of completing an astounding 227 holes and 36 birdies! Fearn also attributes his success to the many veterans who came out to support him, several of whom he has coached for three years now as part of the On Course Foundation’s Simpson Cup Team.
“It really is motivating to look over and see these guys here supporting me,” Fearn said. “I’m always so humbled for the opportunity to serve them in return for all they have done for us.”
Anyone present could easily see the special relationships that they have built over the years, as some of the veterans gave Chris a second wind late in the day through some gentle heckling, “kid brother” style.
The day concluded with the annual celebratory dinner at the gazebo, provided by the Disabled American Veterans. Attendees were treated to a Lowcountry feast and enjoyed meeting many of the honored guests, including the Guests of Honor, DeWitt Osborne, of the Salute Military Golf Association and Jason Faircloth, founder of the Disable Golf Association of America, the first organization of its kind.
Tuesday kicked off with the Veterans March and Rally. Complete with a march of more than 100 veterans from all branches of the service, presentation of the colors, and a heartfelt performance of patriotic songs, including each of the armed service songs from each military branch and a beautiful rendition of our national anthem, performed by the Dataw Singers, a choral group led by Dataw member Tim McGrath.
Following the March and Rally, a golf tournament for veterans of all ages and their supporters was played on both of the Dataw Island Golf Courses. The Veterans Golf Classic supports Tee it Up for the Troops, which has beneficiaries such as the Fischer House which builds comfort homes in V.A. and medical centers enabling family members to be close to their injured sons and daughters, which saves them thousands of dollars a month in lodging, travel and food costs. They also support the Gary Sinise Foundation, the On Course Foundation, the Simpson Cup, and the Warrior Canine Connection, to name just a few.
After a fun round of golf, attendees convened for a luncheon in the Carolina Room to celebrate the service and sacrifice of many men and women, which featured testimonies provided by wounded veterans, including an inspiring presentation by DeWitt, who told the teary-eyed crowd a story many of them could relate to all-too-well – a story of challenge, adversity, perseverance, and overcoming. Also at the luncheon, Dataw was honed by the SCGA with the presentation of a framed flag and plaque. Another highlight each year is the presentation of the Quilt of Valor; this year, the labor of love was given to DeWitt as a thank you for his service and sacrifice. Last but certainly not least, Dave Luzzi emceed the presentation of a patriotic golf bag to Bob Hopkins in recognition for all he does each year to serve fellow veterans.
The week would not be complete without the Veterans Breakfast. This year’s speaker was our own Col. Glenn Blackburn, US Army Ret. Col. Blackburn spoke about the evolution of Dataw Island’s efforts in support of our veterans, including our contributions to helping wounded or disabled veterans regain their confidence and independence through the game of golf.
Michele Weaber, also a Dataw member, brought the crowd of veterans and their spouses to tears with an emotive reading of the poem, “Forever Proud and Free,” a reading which has been more than a year in the making. Prior to his passing, 2017 Veteran of the Year Jack Cummings had personally requested the reading.
A moment of silence was also held to honor Dataw veterans Gar Miller and Harry Scarfe, who passed this past year.
Another highlight included the naming of this year’s Dataw Island Veteran of the Year … Jim Morrissey! Morrissey has played an integral part in Dataw’s events and contributions for veterans in recent years. Morrissey served in the US Marine Corps through Vietnam and then, as a civilian, worked at LaGuardia Airport and was the first of his counterparts to make the call to shut down operations during the 9/11 attacks, quite possibly saving more lives.
Al Sears, also a Dataw member, was also recognized for his continued contributions. Presenting the award was event emcee Bo Tobin, who also thanked Bob “Hoppy” Hopkins for his ongoing contributions, and Dataw staff, particularly Dave Britton and Chris Fearn.
This year, SC Gov. Henry McMaster also made a Proclamation to name Nov. 6 as “Tee It Up for the Troops Day.” Col. Blackburn, in turn, presented the Proclamation to Britton to hang in the Pro Shop for all to appreciate.
What a week!
THANK YOU to all of our veterans, their spouses and family, the countless volunteers, and the Dataw staff for all you have done to make this week a success. An especially big THANK YOU to our veterans for your service and sacrifice.