SALEMBURG — During a pleasant and sunny morning at the Lakewood Country Club, Dr. Shari Herring watched as teams of golfers made their way to the course in carts. With their swings, the players made a difference in the lives of cadets from Tarheel ChalleNGe.
The first Tarheel ChalleNGe Incorporated (TCI) Golf Tournament Fundraiser was held Friday at the club. Funds will be used for cadet scholarships and grants. Close to 20 teams participated. Although an official tally was not available in the morning, but officials said the tournament may have raised more than $10,000.
“People are laughing and having a good time,” said Herring, director of the academy in Salemburg. “They’re ready to go out and support the cadets, but also have fun. We have a beautiful day under this Carolina sky to go out and have a great day of fun.”
Herring began making plans for the tournament several months ago, with others from the organizations.
Carolyn Gaskins, TCI president, was pleased with the turnout as well.
“We appreciate the support of everybody for us,” Gaskins said. “I’m really thrilled. Praise the Lord. When you start something, you never know how it’s going to turnout.”
Gaskins said the golfers support the mission of the academy, sponsored by the North Carolina National Guard. The quasi-military program guides high school dropouts, expelled students and other youths facing troubles.
“Sampson County has been really supportive of Tarheel ChalleNGe from the beginning,” she said. “It’s a program that’s working, with a lot of success. These kids are making America great.”
TCI is a nonprofit and receives funds from donations. Some of the sources includes parents, community members, sponsors and fundraisers. Gaskins said the purpose is to raise funds to provide up to $2,000 to graduates pursuing additional education.
“I been involved with the program since day one as a volunteer and it’s working,” Gaskins said.
She added that more than 5,000 students have graduated from the program and continued their education.
Curt Pritchard, director of golf operations at Lakewood Country Club, enjoyed welcoming the golfers and working with the Tarheel ChalleNGe leaders helping cadets through the fundraiser. Pritchard said he has tremendous respect for the whole staff of the academy.
“It was a stunning success as far as turnout. You had 19 teams and everyone seemed ready to go and the weather was beautiful,” Pritchard said. Having good people at Lakewood Country Club is what we’re all about.”
Retired Col. Edward Timmons, state director for Tarheel ChalleNGe, said it was an outstanding effort to support scholarships and grants. He also expressed how it’s part of an ongoing partnership.
“This tournament means a lot to not only the challenge program, but also to the community,” Timmons said.
Many sponsors assisted with the tournament. Door prizes were also donated by local businesses as well. Several trophies were awarded to the top finishers.
“The outpouring of support has been incredible,” Herring said. “Not only with players, but also with the local community. There were individuals giving donations as well as businesses. It all came together for a beautiful day.”