John Deere Classic officials announced a record amount raised for local charities Wednesday — $6.79 million. The announcement gave Birdies for Charity director Kristy Ketcham Jackson chills.
“The Quad City community is amazing. Not only do I say that, but PGA tour events around the country say that because they know what we do, and they know that we’re a smaller community than most other PGA tournament, and they look at us with envy and wonder how they can do the same,” said Jackson.
This year’s tournament raised $1.5 million more than last year, and those dollars are already at work in the community.
At the Quad Cities’ Red Cross chapter, that money helps train disaster response volunteers, some of whom are being dispatched to the East Coast.
“To have the Red Cross be there, and know that they have somebody to lean on and start them back on the road to recovery just means so much,” said Red Cross regional chapter executive Betsy Pratt.
The Red Cross is also making a difference closer to home.
“It’s right here in the Quad Cities. Usually, we average about 150 to 175 fires a year,” said disaster dispatch supervisor Rich Burroughs.
Just two weeks ago, the Red Cross responded to an apartment fire in Moline. Volunteers provided shelter, food, clothing and support to the displaced families.
“Even with insurance, at 3 in the morning, you call the 1-800 number, ‘Oh, we’ll send somebody out in a couple of days.’ Those families need assistance right now,” said Burroughs.
“You think about all the things we’re seeing today on the news with Hurricane Sandy. Well, what happens to a local family that has a fire is the exact same thing. It’s one moment you have everything, the next moment you’re devastated,” said Pratt.
With Red Cross help, though, birdies are building hope on area residents’ darkest days.
Each of the nearly 500 charities who received checks Wednesday also got an 8 percent bonus this year, thanks to a $110,000 John Deere donation and strong tournament revenues. Since it began in the Quad Cities in 1971, the tournament has given more than $49.08 million to QC charities.