Golf tournament raises money for cancer research
APALACHIN, N.Y. -- A virtual army of golf carts lined up at the Links at Hiawatha for the sixth annual "Friends of Michael" golf tournament, eighteen holes to benefit Upstate Medical University's lung cancer research.
The tournament remembers Michael Connolly, a contractor from Binghamton who died from the disease at the age of 39.
"Well we originally just started out to get family and friends together and to remember him and try to give back a little bit to Upstate Medical for everything that they did for us,” said Penny Connolly, Michael's Widow & Tournament Organizer.
Organizers say the tournament alone brings in between $10 and $13,000 each year. So far, the Connolly's cancer research endowment exceeds 500 thousand dollars. But money is only one part of the equation.
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It's a beautiful day out here and over one hundred and twenty golfers have shown up to tee off in the fight against lung cancer. And while they know a cure probably won't be found today, there's a sense of hope and optimism amongst the participants.
“It's a terrible disease, they obviously had a terrible tragedy in their family losing Michael so young, but they have just taken that and turned it in to something extremely positive,” said Don Zorn, Upstate Medical University Foundation.
Beyond scorecards filled with pars and bogeys, family and friends also remembered Michael. A non-smoker, volunteer coach and athlete whose life, for them, ended too soon.
“The impact he had on some of my friends through sports was more than a lot of people know, and he was a tremendous guy. He's missed,” said Ryan Connolly, Michael's Son & Tournament Organizer.
Organizers plan to continue the golf tournament and other events, and hope to raise over $1 million for cancer research.
According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 215,000 new cases of lung cancer have been reported in the U.S. in 2008.