Text by Cheryl Levitan

Staging a successful fundraiser is not an easy task in the best of times. But during a pandemic, when local businesses, medical systems and even the ability to easily meet and plan are severely impacted, it seemed almost impossible for the Kaweah Delta Foundation to hold its annual Golf Classic. But with hard work and constant adaptations to changing conditions, sponsors were secured, prizes donated and safe practices incorporated to allow the tournament to proceed.

Safety required shared meals and group ceremonies to be replaced by temperature screening, touchless drink stations, pick-up boxed meals, online posting of results and golfers each driving their own carts.

The fun for participants was clearly still there, though, as those large group events were replaced by contests and creative innovations. “Mulligan tickets” allowed players do-overs during the round and entry afterward into prize drawings (with donations to acquire more prize tickets readily accepted). The sought-after grand prize was a vacation to one of five destinations. Cannon shots were another donation opportunity, adding chance and laughter to any given hole as golfers could opt to shoot their team’s first shot (their collective drive) out of an air cannon.

With six members on each of the 17 teams, those 102 carts taking off for their respective first holes was a sight to see — more orchestrated dance or field production than a classic start to a tournament!

Past KD Golf Classics have typically raised about $135,000 toward earmarked hospital projects. Although just half the size this year (could you imagine more than 102 carts on the course?), the 2020 Classic raised $85,000, more than 60 percent of last year’s total. That money will go toward the COVID-19 Relief Fund to purchase needed patient equipment and staff PPE, the latter always in short supply during the current pandemic.

Wedged proning pads to improve patient breathing are already in use, delaying or even obviating the need for a ventilator. A Lucas machine has also been purchased to provide consistent chest compressions during cardiac arrests (freeing five staff members’ time and their PPE equipment).

The foundation board and staff (Liz Wynn, staff director) and Ben Cripps (Golf Classic Committee chairman) would like to thank the following: committee member Andre Goddard and the entire Classic’s committee, 60 volunteers, all the sponsors (title sponsors — Foundation for Medical Care for Tulare and Kings Counties and the Key Medical Group), all the many donors and participants as well as Visalia Country Club’s staff. Finally, congratulations to the winning team of Ben Cripps, Sid Frank, Chad Brings, Jerome Keene, Joe Greens and Gary Amon.