HAS IT REALLY been 29 years? Well, as a matter of fact, yes. So who knew it would grow to this, after such a humble start?
We're talking about Ron Jaworski's Celebrity Golf Challenge, set for Sunday and Monday at Atlantic City Country Club.
The event has raised over $4 million for the Jaws Youth Playbook, which helps at-risk youth in the Greater Philadelphia region.
"I would have never imagined it would be running this long, or had this much impact," said Jaworski, the former Eagles quarterback and longtime ESPN analyst. "The first one was at Eagles Nest Golf Club, and the beneficiary was the Eagles Fly for Leukemia. I think we raised about seven or eight thousand. Now we're up to over $300,000. It's incredible. We've sold out every one."
Jaws obviously does a lot of the work to get sponsors and celebrities involved. But he's not in it alone. And he never forgets that.
"What makes me feel good is, people keep coming back," he said. "And we can't do it without that. So that means they see a real value in what they get. So they bring their clients, their friends, themselves.
"And the celebrity support is amazing. You get a Super Bowl MVP like Joe Flacco. Michelle Wie is joining us. She'll hit the ceremonial first ball and play a few holes. Gale Sayers, Julius Erving, Herm Edwards. And on and on and on. The big project this year is with Michael Vick building a field in Hunting Park. It's tangible. You see kids using it, you see the smile on their faces. That's what it's all about."
Jaws is very involved in the golf-course business, mostly in South Jersey. Last summer he added Blue Heron Pines to his stable. So he cares about the game. But the charitable stuff in the long run leaves a greater impression.
"Instead of playing football in the mud, they'll have a nice AstroTurf field, hopefully rocking 24 hours a day," he said. "You try to keep them straight, give them something to do. That's what I really get out of it . . . I'll continue to do it as long as I have the energy."
So here's to another 3 decades.