By Jacob Osborne EBS Editorial Assistant
BIG SKY – St. Louis Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher, former NFL great Eric Dickerson, and former MLB all-star Matt Morris will once again set aside their primary sports for a weekend in July as they play 18 holes of golf in support of Gallatin County children.
On July 12 and 13, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Gallatin County will host the 14th annual Big Sky Celebrity Golf Tournament at Big Sky Resort’s Arnold Palmer-designed golf course.
The charity event, which began as an earnest attempt by community members to maintain a Big Brothers Big Sisters program in town, has taken off since its first year in 2001, raising over $450,000 and supporting more than 100 Big Sky kids.
Currently, the Big Sky BBBS program supports 12 school-based mentorships between students at Lone Peak High School and Ophir Elementary, as well as two community-based matches between Big Sky children and adult volunteers. These programs facilitate weekly, one-on-one meetings between participants.
Reaching beyond the Big Sky branch, the Celebrity Golf Tournament has also become one of the most significant BBBS fundraisers in the county.
“We’re proud of the fact that the tournament has come to fund more than just Big Sky,” said Al Malinowski, a local resident who has volunteered on the golf tournament’s planning committee for all 14 years. “We’re now able to help a lot of the programs in Gallatin County.”
This year’s event will begin in the Talus Room of Big Sky Resort’s Summit Hotel on Sunday, July 12, at 7 p.m. with a welcome address and live music by Jim Salestrom, as well as a live and silent auction.
Malinowski said that while local artisans and businesses provide the majority of the available auction items, celebrity players occasionally offer unique prizes without advanced warning. In 2013, former NFL Pro Bowler Jim Marshall added a signed Barry Sanders jersey to the roster of auction items.
Five-person golf teams, each including one celebrity, will tee off at 11 a.m. on Monday morning. NFL Hall of Famer Richard Dent joins the cast of participating stars this year, competing against the likes of ‘N Sync singer and co-founder Chris Kirkpatrick, and football great Isaac Curtis.
A number of celebrities have become regulars at the tournament, like former NFL Defensive Back Autry Beamon, who is returning for his 13th consecutive summer. “It’s a great event for a very good cause,” said Beamon, who was inspired by his experience in Big Sky to become a Big Brother in his home city of Minneapolis, Minn.
While there is plenty of good-natured competition to be had on the fairway, says Big Sky branch director Jolene Clark, the most emotional moments of the weekend occur the night before.
“At the welcoming, we always recognize someone who has impacted or been impacted by Big Brother Big Sisters,” said Clark, remembering several tear-filled speeches by mentors and mentees alike.
These are Clark’s favorite moments of the event. “[During the welcome,] I feel like, ‘This is why I do it,’” she said.