Throughout the next several months, we will begin a four-part series called Leadership Links: My Story. The series will consist of blogs written by AJGA juniors who are members of the Leadership Links Program. These posts will highlight some of the more than 300 juniors who give back to their communities and what motivates them to be involved in the program.
Kenzie Wright, Class of 2016, McKinney, Texas
Kenzie has been competing in AJGA events since 2011. Her best finish came in 2011 at the Preseason Junior at The Bridges Golf Club where she finished T6. She has verbally committed to play college golf at the Southern Methodist University. View Kenzie's Leadership Links page
I chose City House as my charity because they provide shelter and care for homeless youth in Frisco, Texas. Frisco is considered an affluent community and I was surprised to learn how many homeless kids there are.
My goal is to help raise money for City House so it can purchase a “My Friend’s House” in Frisco. “My Friend’s House” is a shelter for kids up to age 17. It is a home environment that provides safety and security for kids who have been abused or neglected. I like the name “My Friend’s House” because when they are asked where they are staying they can honestly say, at "My Friend’s House!”
I am excited to be able to support City House by volunteering at various fundraisers throughout the year as well as through golf with Leadership Links. I enjoy giving back to this charity because I have been blessed with a stable home and I want to help other kids have a stable environment as well.
Hannah Berman, Class of 2016, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Hannah has played in a total of three AJGA events in 2013 and 2014. Her best finish came at the 2013 Junior All-Star at Red Tail where she finished T11. View Hannah's Leader Links page
I was fortunate enough to be chosen for Leadership Links because of my involvement in my community. The charity to which I most closely associate is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This charity is very important to my family and me because we are close to a family which suffered a tremendous loss to CF. Mrs. Beth McCarthy, a close family friend, was an amazing woman and unfortunately, was diagnosed with CF in her early 20s. She was about to be married and start a family knowing that she would most likely not live long and that her children would have a risk of getting this disease as well. She also had a brother who died from CF. Her son Jimmy, who became a close friend of mine, fotrunately was not born with the disease.
Over time, Mrs. Beth’s health began to decline. The disease eventually took control and at 37 years old, Mrs. Beth passed away. She was one of the hardest, most optimistic fighters I’ve ever met. She was an inspiration to so many people, including myself. The hardest thing about CF is that it is terminal. With many diseases, even cancer, there is a survival rate, but with CF you are not expected to make it through your 30s. Mrs. Beth was amazing in that she was able to live to 37 and have a child.
My dad and her husband worked on a charity golf tournament together to help raise money to fight CF. I had always helped as a volunteer and after she passed, I wanted to help raise more money to find a cure for this awful disease. When I was 12, for my community service projects, I created a fundraiser where I hit drives for groups on a par four. From the red tees at our course, on about a 290 yard hole, I get them to about a 60-70 yard shot in, and a better chance of making a birdie and closer to winning the tournament. They donate $20 per group ($5 each person.). All of the money goes straight to the charity and I generally raise about $1000 per tournament. I named the fundraiser “Hitting it with Hannah.”
At our club, I have set up a First Tee Donation Station so members can donate their new and used balls, shoes, clubs, hats, gloves, bags and any other golf essentials to The First Tee of North Florida. We have raised more than $35,000 in equipment over the last three years. Someone even donated a golf cart! I also volunteer for many events outside of golf, including “Cardboard City,” which helps raise awareness for the homeless.
I think it is immensely important to give back to my community because I realize how fortunate I am. So many people need help with various things but don’t have a way to get the help they need. With each charity I have worked with, I have learned a lot about the many different needs people have and how hard they fight. I know these people are grateful for even the smallest acts of kindness, and I find them inspiring. It really warms my heart to know that I can be a part of why these families, kids and adults are able to feel better or live a better life! It truly is fulfilling in every possible way to help these various charities and fundraisers. I realize how lucky I am, and giving back is and always will be from the bottom of my heart.