HARRELLS — Cade Hancock of Elizabethtown, a junior at Harrells Christian Academy, has raised more than $25,000 for two charities in the American Junior Golf Association’s (AJGA) Leadership Links competition. In recognition of his accomplishment, Cade was recently invited to play golf with PGA Pro Ricky Fowler at one of his home courses in Jupiter, Fla.
Over 100 junior golfers participated in the competition, started in 2009 by AJGA to encourage young, talented golfers to gain real-world experience in how to connect their sport to helping others and giving back.
Cade’s first step was to identify a charity of his choice to receive 50 percent of any donations he raised, with the other 50 percent going to the AJGA grant program for underprivileged junior golfers. Cade’s choice of Operation Smile was simple and swift. Having watched his sister Cassie undergo more than 10 operations to repair the cleft palate she was born with, he was eager to support an organization that provides those repairs to other kids with a similar need.
That eagerness didn’t mean that the work of raising funds was easy, or that Cade didn’t have fears about joining this competition. When his father first proposed that he sign up, Cade felt mostly hesitation. Then, as he later testified in church, “I heard a still small voice telling me to do it, and I got on board.”
Setting what seemed an unreachable goal of $1,000, Cade started writing letters, knocking on doors and making phone calls. When he reached $1,000, he set a new goal — and kept going.
Cade’s golf coach and HCA’s Assistant Headmaster Andy Wells could not be prouder of his player.
“I am truly excited for Cade, not only for the money that he raised for these charities, but that he was able reap the rewards of his work by winning the competition,” said Wells. “It’s the same work ethic that has made him such a good golfer with such great potential.”
By the end of the competition, Cade’s $25,000 in donations from 118 donors topped the amount raised by any other young golfer in the history of the Leadership Links competition.
“It’s been amazing to watch,” said Cade’s father Jim Hancock, “but not unbelievable. We said just turn this over to the Lord, do the best you can, and see where it goes.”
Adds Cade, “At the beginning I definitely did feel some hesitation. And if it weren’t for that still small voice I would not have reached anywhere near that amount. I’ve gained a whole lot of new confidence and skills, and my sister was real tickled that I chose Operation Smile. I’m so glad that AJGA does this.”