Approximately eight sports celebrities, along with just over five dozen other local golfers, joined together to raise money for a Sampson Arts Council-sponsored program that will allow local youngsters to go to summer camp .
The money the Arts Council raised during Tuesday’s first-ever fundraising golf tournament, will go to scholarships for youth who are nominated by educators in Clinton City and Sampson County schools. These youngsters will be awarded scholarships to come and participate in various art activities at the Small House.
Sports stars such as former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel; Clinton’s own Leonard Henry; 1974 NC State Basketball star Monte Towe and running back Billy Ray Barnes, just to name a few, hit the links for the cause.
Gabriel, a graduate of N.C. State, played professional football for the Rams in the 1970s. “I am excited to play; I do around five of these a year, but I have been out with some surgeries and this is the first one I have played in about a year,” the football player said before hitting the course Tuesday morning.
“Maybe I have saved up some good shots,” he joked.
Many of the celebrities were sitting around joking and sharing stories before the 10 o’clock tee off time, but one could still see the competitive desire in each player’s eyes.
Dickie Walters, the PGA Professional for Coharie Country Club course, expressed “it is nice to be able to meet all these professional athletes. We are extremely excited and honored to have been asked to host this event. I had a great time working with Stan and Debbie Roberts, and the Kern family.”
A total of 76 players divided into 19 teams to compete for the top spot.
Among those swinging clubs were Clinton High School assistant basketball coach and Clinton Appliance owner Dwight Horne, former CHS football coach Bob Lewis and GO Automotive owner Steve Stefanovich.
At the end of the day, the top three teams were awarded prizes.
Third place honors went to the Farm Bureau team of Ashley Spell, Lynn Medlin, Karl Thurber and Jimmy Raynor, who shot a combined 46; The State Pest Control team, made up of John Larkin Spell, Wes Wooten, Roy Brown and Mitch Naylor, brought home second place honors, shooting a team total 45; and the US Foods team, comprised of Ricky Zeng, Jonathan Williams, Stephen Horne and Chris Eaves won the match, with a 44.
The longest drive award went to Mitch Naylor; closest to the pin awards went to Jimmy Raynor on hole four and six, and John Connet on hole 10 and 15.
Megan Scronce, executive director of the Arts Council, declared “This was the first time that we have ever done this, and it was a huge success. I hope we can do it again in years to come.”
While the amount raised was not yet known, Scronce said she was pleased with the support provided by the teams and sponsors.
“We had a beautiful day, and were very lucky to get as many celebrities as we had. We were very fortunate to have so much community involvement through prizes and sponsorships.”