Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The real success of The First Tee of Charlotte

There were many impressive things about the fund-raising dinner for The First Tee of Charlotte held Tuesday night at the Quail Hollow Club.

There were more than 250 guests, many thousands of dollars were raised through silent and live auctions (the featured item was a trip to play Pebble Beach and Cypress Point with accommodations at the Lodge at Pebble Beach, which drew a winning bid well into five figures) and author Jim Dodson supplied just the right touch of humor and insight with his after-dinner talk.

But the most impressive part of the evening was the three young people who are examples of what The First Tee can do. Arissa McNeal, a 15-year old North Mecklenburg High student, 15-year old Sameer Aery from Ardrey Kell High and 17-year old Stephen Graddick from Olympic High, allowed the guests to put names and faces to the Charlotte program.

McNeal, Aery and Graddick have been in The First Tee program for several years and they're examples of how the program is about more than golf. It uses golf as a framework and a foundation but it's more about life skills. The First Tee program is founded on nine core values including honesty, sportsmanship and integrity and it's touching and helping young people here and around the country.

It has not been an easy road for The First Tee of Charlotte to get rolling but moving into its new building at Revolution Golf Course this summer helped push it over the the top. It has momentum, support and Tuesday night it gave dinner guests a look at the good work it's doing.

Executive director Vincent King and director of programs Brandi Edwards have worked with hundreds of young people, introducing them to golf while teaching them fundamentals of life.

Tuesday night at Quail Hollow, The First Tee of Charlotte showed what it can do.