Tee It Up for the Troops back for a second year

A grant has been given by Twin Cities Gateway to promote the second annual Tee It Up for the Troops golf event at Bunker Hills Golf Course, Coon Rapids., Friday, Aug. 24.The $11,250 contribution from Twin Cities Gateway (Minnesota Metro North Tourism) has been accepted by the Coon Rapids City Council. The city operates the golf course.

The golf tournament, followed by a dinner at the Harvest Grill restaurant in the Bunker Hills Golf Course Clubhouse, raises money for the Tee It Up for the Troops organization, which was created in 2005 to help support fallen and disabled members of the military and their families.

According to Pat Reis, tournament director, the first tournament, which took place in August 2011, was a success, raising between $10,000 and $20,000 for Tee It up for the Troops.

This money is distributed by the Burnsville-based Tee It Up for the Troops organization to its various charities that benefit fallen or disabled veterans and their families, for example Fisher House, which Reis described as a Ronald McDonald-type house for families of veterans.

The 2011 event had 210 golfers and Reis said the goal this year is to reach 220.

“That’s about the maximum,” he said.

Registration opens at 10 a.m. with an 11 a.m. lunch, noon opening ceremonies, which are open to the public, with the 18-hole scramble shotgun tournament starting at 12:45 p.m. immediately followed by the dinner banquet.

The opening ceremonies will follow much the same format as last year, Reis said.

It will include the Minnesota Army National Guard Color Guard, a bagpiper, Coon Rapids resident Julius Andrews, 12, singing the national anthem and Gold Star mothers, who have lost children serving in the military, laying a wreath and releasing doves, plus the presence of a Bald Eagle.

The only change planned is a parachute drop by a skydiver holding a U.S. flag instead of a fly-over, according to Reis.

“It will be an emotional ceremony as it was last year,” Reis said.

The Tee It Up for the Troops event at Bunker Hills was the vision of former Coon Rapids City Councilmember Joe Sidoti.

Sidoti served as tournament chairman for the inaugural event in 2011 and even though he resigned from the council last fall to relocate to Florida because of his job, he will be back in Coon Rapids for the Aug. 24 fund-raiser and remains as tournament chairman.

“Joe has continued to be very much involved in the planning,” Reis said.

According to Tim Anders, Bunker Hills golf pro/manager, the Gateway grant will be used to produce marketing and collateral materials, social media and to develop and place print and broadcasting advertising to promote and encourage participation and increase awareness of the event.

Promotion of the Aug. 24 Tee It Up for the Troops event took place at Bunker Hills Saturday when Dan “The Common Man” Cole, a Coon Rapids native, hosted his “Tee To Green” KFAN radio show live in the clubhouse for two hours the morning of the second day of the Minnesota PGA State Open Championship, which was being played at the Bunker Hills course, Anderson said.

Earlier that morning, before the second round of the State Open teed off, Coon Rapids Mayor Tim Howe joined Cole to play the back nine holes of the championship course, he said.

“The tournament is coming together very well,” Howe said.

“This will be another great year. I encourage people to participate.”

In return for its grant, Twin Cities Gateway (TCG), of which Coon Rapids is a member, will be identified as an official lodging partner for the event, its logo and website address will be included on new print and online materials produced and TCG banners will be displayed on-site at the tournament.

According to Reis, the tournament has already lined up a number of sponsors, but more are being sought.

Deadline for reserving sponsorships, for which there are five categories ranging in price from $400 to $5,000, is Aug. 10.

“The needs of military veterans and their families are only partially being met,” Sidoti states in a letter to potential golfers and sponsors.

“It is time to step up and show our appreciation for their courage and service.”

After it was founded in 2005, Tee It Up for the Troops subsequently launched the National Day of Golf which has resulted in numerous golf outings throughout the country where the proceeds benefit veterans and their families of all branches of the military and their families.

The organization raised over $80,000 during its inaugural year in 2005 and to date it has raised over $2.5 million and now hosts golf events in more than 30 states, according to its website.

Ninety-five percent of all dollars raised has gone to programs that support veterans and their families, the website states.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]