The Work Begins: Birdies for Charity Kicks Off Ahead of John Deere Classic

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MOLINE - In about three months, hundreds of golfers and spectators will gather at TPC Deere Run for the 2017 John Deere Classic. Right now though, the real work begins to gather donations for dozens of charities.

On Monday, April 10th, the Birdies for Charity Program kicked off at John Deere World Headquarters in Moline. The annual fundraiser benefits nearly 500 charities across the area.

“We are very excited to kick off the annual John Deere Classic charity miracle in which the PGA TOUR’s smallest market consistently produces one of the largest charity totals among the PGA TOUR’s 47 tournaments,” said John Deere Classic Tournament Director Clair Peterson.

The John Deere Classic and the Birdies for Charity Program is coming off a record-breaking year. In October 2016, Peterson revealed that the tournament helped raise a record $10.5 million for charity, helping 491 charities.

The Birdies for Charity Program consists of individual charity pledges based on the number of birdies recorded in the tournament as well as lump sum donations to specific charities.

In addition, there is a Bonus Fund consisting of tournament profits as well as a $325,000 matching donation from the John Deere Foundation. The Bonus Fund is distributed proportionately to each charity, with a minimum five percent guarantee.  For the last four years, the Bonus Fund has provided at 10 percent bonus.

In addition, John Deere underwrites all administrative expenses for the Birdies program, making it possible for 100 percent of every donation – plus the bonus - to go to the designated charity.

“The John Deere Classic Birdies for Charity Program continues to be an extremely powerful and cost-effective way for tournament area non-profit organizations to maximize their fundraising efforts," said Kristy Ketcham-Jackson, Director of the Birdies for Charity program.

WQAD News 8 interviewed Ketcham-Jackson live on WQAD News 8 at 11am after the kick off took place. Click the video above to see the interview.