Many thanks

When I first told Danielle Marshman Williamson that I thought we should have a golf tournament to raise money for our Out of the Darkness walk, she looked at me like I was crazy.

That was more than six months ago, when we first sat down to discuss how Team Chenango was going to raise enough money participate in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s 18-mile dusk ‘til dawn walk to raise money for depression and suicide awareness and prevention.

Danielle walked last year in Boston, and this year a whole crew of us will be walking with her from June 4 to 5 in New York City. There’s a catch, though. In order for us all to walk, we have to raise at least $10,000. Hence our little brainstorming session.

In the end, I talked our dear team captain around to my way of thinking and Team Chenango’s inaugural Out of the Darkness Golf Tournament was born.

Neither of us had ever planned a charity golf event before, so the process required a lot of hand holding. Thankfully, the lovely Cara Bradley from Blue Stone Golf Course in Oxford was more than up for the task.

There was also a bit of arm twisting – not to mention begging, badgering and cajoling – as we, um, encouraged everyone we knew (and some we didn’t) to support our cause.

Our initial goal was to sign up 20 teams and secure 20 hole sponsors. I’m thrilled to report that we blew those numbers out of the water. Despite the fact, I might add, that we did everything wrong.

You see, we talked about the tournament for months, but it took us awhile to actually pull the trigger. So we got a late start promoting the whole thing. We never even got around to sending out sponsor letters. But somehow, we pulled it off.

Oh, the sign ups were slow at first, with teams and sponsors dribbling in. But as the event approached, we were fielding more and more phone calls and emails from people who wanted to get involved. Text messages were flying between Danielle, Cara and myself as we scrambled to keep each other up to date.

By mid-week prior to the tournament, we’d already blown by our original goal. 25 teams had registered and I was busy calling our goodie bag sponsors asking for more, well goodies. But then Mother Nature decided to rain on our parade. Literally.

On Thursday, as we assessed the damage and flooding from our third round of thunderstorms in as many days, I started worrying about whether or not we’d even be able to have the tournament. Now the text messages I was exchanging weren’t with Cara, but her brother Chad, the course superintendent.

In the end, he and his crew pulled off a miracle. And when Sunday dawned, sunny and absolutely gorgeous, Blue Stone was ready for us. All 120 of us, I might add. Because, that’s right, we ended up with 30 teams!

It truly was an amazing day. Thanks to the Bradleys and their staff – especially Will Bradley and Dave Branham – and all of our wonderful volunteers, it went off without a hitch.

Well, except for a brief period when the bar ran out of tonic and I started going into Tanqueray withdrawals. But don’t worry, Cara quickly rectified the situation, and all was once more right with the world.

When Cara put up the big number at the end, Danielle and I both were completely overcome by emotion. Our grand total for the day was just shy of $9,000. Which, incidentally, was about three times what we had hoped to raise at the event.

We couldn’t have done it without the 120 golfers who came out on the day, and the 30 businesses and individuals who sponsored holes. A special thank you to those who went “over and above” with their financial support of our cause: the Oxford Lions Club, NBT Bank, Blueox, Neil and Linda Bartle, Betsey Baio and Maureen Hurley. There are so many others to thank as well including Kathie Holt, Sue Ryan of Canasawacta Country Club, Hoppie’s, The Stadium, Fred’s Inn and Betsey, who made our community dinner possible. And a special shout out to Sue Franco, whose sauce definitely lived up to its hype.

Our gratitude also goes out to all those who contributed prizes and items for our time and talent auction, particularly the Oxford High School Student Government.

Thank you, too, to all those who took the time to write on the memory board about the loved ones they have lost to suicide. That board will come to New York City with us and we will walk with each of you in our hearts, in the hopes that the money and awareness we have raised will save others from enduring the heartache we have all experienced.

Anyone who wishes to donate, can still do so at

On behalf of Team Chenango, thank you.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.

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