Although the weatherman had predicted a 40% chance of rain, the day could not have turned out better; blue skies and puffy white clouds. It was a little warm during the afternoon but cooled off significantly around 5:00 PM when the clouds and a nice breeze rolled in.
Our golfers this year:
The bus rolled up to the entrance of the Club House where, as they stepped from the bus, the Veterans were met by a large contingent of volunteers.
On their way into the Club House the golfers walked underneath the Defenders of Freedom banner as well as banners noting all of the wonderful businesses and individuals who donated so generously in order for the event to take place.
The first stop, once inside the Club House, was registration where each golfer signed in and received what would be the first of many awesome items donated just for them
After registration those who needed golf shoes were directed to the Pro Shop were the staff made sure to fit them with just the right pair of shoes. The staff at the Dallas Cowboys Golf Club is beyond phenomenal. All of them - the office personnel, Pro Shop staff, golf cart staff, golf course staff, food service staff and, of course, the beverage cart ladies. We can never thank them enough for the respect they always show towards our Veterans. I've never once heard any member of the staff (this is my third year to volunteer for this event) say, "no" when asked for assistance.
Following registration we connected most of the Veteran golfers to their civilian teammates. Not all of the civilians had arrived so we introduced the remainder either on the driving range or at lunch.
Next stop - golf clubs also provided by the Dallas Cowboys Golf Club. Yep, they are just the BEST!!!
Need golf clubs? We've got 'em
Then it was out to the driving range where those who have played golf before (a few of the Veterans had) could warm up and those who had never picked up a golf club in their lives reduced me to tears - like they do every single year - with their tenacity and will to "do this".
Donna Cranston, Steve Blackman & volunteer golf Pro
Steve Blackman, pictured above, has had multiple concussions during deployments. Steve cannot bend over because he gets dizzy and is unable to steady himself well without his walker. He also suffers from intense and constant shaking. Steve was concerned he would not be able to play golf. HOWEVER, with the help of one of the many AMAZING Pro golfers who volunteered their time to work with the Veteran golfers, Steve WAS able to play golf. It was a very emotional experience for many of us and a HUGE milestone for Steve. I am a huge fan of Steve's and cannot tell you how damn proud I am of him for persevering.
Steve Blackman's fiance and his CCI Service Dog, Gottlieb, aka "Gotti", watch at the driving range while dad learns how to golf
Chris Fierro - Iraq War Veteran amputee and my dear friend - getting tips at the driving range from one of the volunteer golf Pros
Lunch was served then it was time to head for the links.
Veterans and civilian golfers loaded up and ready to roll
SGT Michael Denton (r) and Patrick Law of US Bank
Donna Cranston checking on the golfers
One of the Veterans thanking Donna for the experience
There was lots of wildlife on the course.
The wildlife is the turtle - not Jodi and Jamie...well maybe all three
As I drove by one team they were feeding this raccoon
Two of the Veteran golfers and their teams
A tradition - me, Jodi and Jamie on the star in one of the fairways. Jodi was tweeting. LOL
Brandon B and me
At the Snack Shack (half way point) enjoying complimentary hot dogs, sausages, cold beer, chips and soft drinks.
After the round of golf everyone enjoyed a delicious Mexican dinner. Awards were given for longest drive, lowest score, etc. Then we had selected the winning raffle tickets for some fabulous prizes.
After the awards dinner and raffles were finished we loaded up on the bus to return to the Westin where we hit the bar. (Which will be my next post). It was an amazing day. Each year I think the next just cannot get better and it does.
Our thanks to all of the golfers, volunteers and the following sponsors for making this year's golf outing the best ever!
EFT Source, Inc.
Shields Business Solutions
C E Dean
Armed Forces Bowl
Rick Murray LLC
DFW Rec Committee
Above Par Promotions
John and Sherry Nolan
Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities
And to the 45 individuals who sponsored soldiers to cover the cost of them being able to come and participate.
It really is an amazing effort by so many!