19th Annual “Hope Fore Kids” Golf Classic
On a hot and humid day at The Salvation Army’s Hope Fore Kids Golf Classic, the sun’s rays mirrored the warmth in the hearts of the golfers who gathered at The Glen Club in Glenview. The annual event isn’t just about golf, it’s about supporting youth programs that make a significant difference in the lives of kids throughout the Chicago area.
One hundred twenty-eight golfers from across the country came together to contribute to the greater good, but the real winners were the kids who benefited from their generosity. Most of the money raised helps send children to one of The Salvation Army’s greatest treasures. Wonderland Camp in Wisconsin welcomes children from inner-city Chicago and the suburbs and lets them enjoy wide open spaces and fresh air, where they can swim, fish, archery, and high-ropes courses. It's a place where dreams are nurtured and possibilities are endless.
Before teeing off, the participants had the privilege of learning from Emil Esposito, PGA Professional, Legendary Golf Instructor, and inductee into the Illinois PGA Hall of Fame. Associate Chicago Area Commander Major K. Kendall Mathews then brought greetings and welcomed all to the event.
As the day unfolded, the excitement on the golf course grew with contests for the straightest drive, longest drive, closest to the pin, and longest putt. These challenges added an extra layer of competition and camaraderie to the day. The winners were celebrated for their precision and skill, adding to the overall spirit of the event.
However, the real highlight of the day was the incredible performance by the foursome of Nick Berg, John Dickman, Mark Huske, and Rob Gaw, who shot an impressive nineteen under 53, showcasing their remarkable golf prowess.
Following the round, a thrilling contest saw five lucky golfers get a chance to win $50,000 by sinking a shot from 165 yards, off the 18th fairway. Although there were some close calls, unfortunately, nobody walked away with the prize. Nonetheless, it added an element of suspense and excitement to the event.
The 19th Hole Reception on The Glen Club patio provided a perfect opportunity for laughter, storytelling, and bonding among the golfers. During these moments of relaxation and camaraderie, the true spirit of the event shines through.
The evening culminated with a delicious meal in The Glen Club banquet hall. But the most moving part of the evening was the heartfelt testimonies of Lt. Colonel Barbara Rich, advisory board member Gary Ballenger, and an emotional video produced by The Salvation Army production team. The story of Lee Langham, who went from the streets of Chicago to Assistant Director of Wonderland Camp, moved many to reach for their wallets to send a kid to camp.
Lt. Colonel Barbara Rich talked about why Wonderland Camp is so beloved, “Conversations happen there that don’t happen at home,” Rich said. “Even if everyone comes from a different background, there’s a connection that happens at camp that is so special.”
The goal of $250,000 was not only met, but exceeded, with over $290,000 raised through sponsorships, registrations, kettle donations, and silent auction bids. The auction items, including sports memorabilia and experiences, generated excitement and contributed to the noble cause.
In the words of General Secretary and Chicago Area Commander Major Caleb Senn, "The funds from this event will help youth learn and grow in character while strengthening their physical, emotional, and spiritual health."
The event was a testament to the power of community coming together to make a positive impact on the lives of young people, offering them hope, support, and a brighter future.