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May 27, 2011 > Golfing with good cause

Golfing with good cause

By Kevin Yin

Sunol Valley Golf Club in Sunol played host to the Fremont Firefighters Fourth Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Golf Tournament on Monday, May 23, afternoon. But on this day, competition certainly took a back seat to a noble cause.

The charity event is produced to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, an organization which was created by congress to honor the memory of firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty, as well as to provide support and assistance for those firefighters' families.

"When a son or daughter or mother or dad or loved one is lost, no one wants to forget them," said event organizer and Fremont Fire Battalion Chief Rich Dickinson. "When they pay that ultimate sacrifice, they want to be remembered. So it's a way to remember them; to honor them; and it's a way to provide some support for their families."

The Fremont tournament is one of over 30 golf tournaments held nationwide in support of the foundation. According to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Golf Tournament website, the tournaments last year raised a total of $286,000 for the foundation.

Dickinson said the Fremont tournament has proven to be one of the most productive in the nation, with just under $25,000 raised last year, and credits the generous contributions from sponsors with helping to raise the money, chiefly among them Local 1689 Fremont Firefighters, Paul Davis Restoration and Nationwide Insurance.

Dickinson said he was satisfied with their efforts this year, even if they don't prove as fruitful as last year.

"This year we're down a little bit. The economy is hurting us, but tournaments across the nation are down. With oil prices going up, one of the things people are going to cut back on is golfing a little bit and spending extra money. Last year, we sold out at 157 [golfers]; this year we have 130."

The first of these golf tournaments was organized by Dickinson's father, Charlie, in Pennsylvania in 2004. The elder Dickinson said he and fellow firefighter Phil McLaughlin created the tournament in an attempt to address a need, but even he has been surprised by its success.

"One of the most profound things the foundation does is working directly with the families: for scholarships for children read to go to college, for family counseling and for support systems for people across the country," said Charlie Dickinson.

"We had out first tournament back in 2004, and it grew by leaps and bound. We had no idea. We couldn't believe that other departments would be willing to do this because it takes a lot of work, Charlie added. "I'm so proud of so many people across the country. It had nothing to do with anything but the love of firefighters for one another."

You can learn more about the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation or the golf tournaments by visiting their website, golf.firehero.org.

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