OXFORD — “My interest in nursing dates back to high school. A desire to help heal people and it seemed only logical to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner,” wrote the late Brandi Estelow in an essay while she was attending Hartwick College in Oneonta.
It was on April 27, 2009, that Estelow was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer brought on by asbestos. Her diagnosis came when she was one year short of finishing college. Brandi lost her battle with cancer on Sept. 24, 2009, at the age of 23.
A memorial golf tournament has been established in her name, and this year marks its fourth straight year. Tee off is Saturday morning, and Bluestone Golf Course is again playing host to the event.
According to Estelow’s grandmother Sammy Diamond, a fund has been established which provides a nursing scholarship through Oxford Academy.
“We have awarded eight students which have or are pursuing a career in nursing,” Diamond said.
The first recipient of the Brandi Estelow Nursing Scholarship was Malorey Muzzy, a 2010 graduate of Oxford. Each year something new is added to the tournament.
“Brandi had an overwhelming passion to help people, and we decided in 2012 to make this tournament about loved ones who have passed before their time,” Diamond said. “Brandi’s tournament commemorates loved ones of local families that should be recognized as individuals who touched the lives of family and friends in addition to making a mark in our community.”
The tournament kicks off with a special ceremony, where the individuals who are being honored are individually recognized and there is the lighting of the torch. This year’s event will recognize and honor Amy (Brillinger) Pole, Scott Franco, Todd Harvey, Willette Northrup, Krista Bartle, Sue Nelson, John Lobdell, Mark Samson, Tom Burton, Toni Copeland, and her grandfather who recently passed, Paul Estelow.
Brandi’s sister, Kisha Estelow, sings a song each year which changes depending on that year’s tournament theme.
“Brandi left us with a legacy of photos,” Diamond said. “We discovered these photos looking through her phone and computer. Her love of photography became an obsession. Her camera in hand resulted in hundreds of pictures to cherish always.”
The photos span from friends, family and shots of nature, which Diamond said she loved.
“We use the nature photos for raffles in the tournament, and as donations for benefits to raise money for those in need,” Diamond said. “Through Brandi, our family has grown into this vast extended family, which has helped us to cope with our loss. She has taught us to love with open hearts and to reach out to all who need nurturing.”