2011-06-30 / News

Golf course to host charity event in July

By Ken Shane

The Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2003 in Roanoke, Va. by a group of veterans and friends who were concerned by reports about injured servicemen and women coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The charity was formed specifi cally to address the concerns of wounded soldiers from the current conflicts. The stated mission of the private, tax-exempt nonprofi t organization is “to honor and empower wounded warriors who incur service-connected wounds, injuries and illnesses (physical or psychological) on or after September 11, 2001.”

On July 16, the Jamestown Golf Club will be the site of a charity event to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project. Mike Holty of Newport is organizing the event. Holty is a Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years.

“I served almost exclusively in the Pacific Fleet,” Holty said. “I was a ship captain and served on five ships for 12 years, and several shore assignments for another 12 years and then I retired.”

Holty said he retired as a Navy officer in Newport about 20 years ago. Following his retirement, he worked as a contractor for six years before fully retiring.

“Since I retired from full-time work I’ve been enjoying life, gardening, playing golf and raising money for the Wounded Warriors,” he said.

His current venture takes place on the island: a golf tournament to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project. The announcement of the July 16 event at the Jamestown Golf Club brought an immediate and powerful response.

“It’s my first charity golf tournament so we’re starting out slow and small,” Holty said. “About two weeks ago I started the promotion on it and we sold out the tournament in one week.”

“That shows you that either the plan is right or the people are there to support this cause,” Holty added. “We can only support 72 golfers on the course for a nine hole event, so I have a waiting list for this tournament.”

The shotgun format tournament will have some special guests. Holty said that he has invited some wounded warriors to golf in the tournament.

“One foursome is going to be military vets who have been disabled in some fashion,” he said. “We’ve invited them to come and play in this tournament as our guests. So people will get a chance to meet wounded vets.”

Holty has been so gratified by the turnout that he is already considering future events on the island. “The response has been so great that we’re considering having another tournament this fall to accommodate all of the golfers who couldn’t play.”

Holty got involved with the project because he found himself with extra time on his hands, so he went looking for a cause to support. He said his motivation is to get involved and give something back now that he has time. He said he and his wife were looking for a charity support, and “of course it turned out to be a military-oriented one.”

“I work as a volunteer for the Wounded Warrior Project,” Holty said. “I was vetted two years ago. I’ve been scheduling events in our area, going through the headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla. They have a wonderful website… that tells you everything you need to know.”

Holty and his wife work together to organize events for the Wounded Warrior Project. He said that they have a team of between six and 12 people that they can call on. “We have our fundraising uniforms that we wear, and we go and raise awareness and raise money as much as we can.”

In addition to raising money for the organization, Holty acknowledges the importance of raising the organization’s profile. “It’s a two-pronged attack,” he said. One is awareness. So many people we talk with never heard of the program. Raising some funds is the second step.”

The Wounded Warrior Project has quickly become one of the country’s most respected and effective non-governmental organizations. “This is a wonderful charity. It’s got great reviews,” Holty said. “It’s got strong support in all the different areas of the country.”

Holty has a strong connection with today’s veterans, and a powerful personal reason for becoming involved with the Wounded Warrior Project. He said that as a Vietnam veteran, he saw what happened to his contemporaries following the war.

“The country treated the wounded and injured servicemen abysmally,” Holty continued. “That’s one of the reasons that I’m involved, one of the reasons that the founders formed this organization.”

The Wounded Warrior Project has a specific mission: “It supports wounded warriors, to honor them, empower them, and help them get their lives back together,” Holty said. “They focus on severely injured men and women coming back from the Middle East.”

Although the tournament is sold out for players, Holty is still looking for donations. He would also like to add more raffle prizes for the event, and suggested gift certificates to local restaurants as an example. People interested in helping can call Holty at 849- 6922.

“I want to thank the community for supporting this great event,” Holty said. “We want to continue supporting this cause. It’s very important.”

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