Dataw Island’s week-long Veterans Celebration thanked our Veterans of the Armed Forces in many joyous ways. The week kicked off with members lining 2.5 miles of roadways with 3,500 flags to set a patriotic ambiance on the island and the inspirational Opening Ceremony paid tribute to our Nation, the men and women of our military, and our cherished freedoms.
This year, the week-long event raised $53,775 (with donations still trickling in). Funds will be distributed to Tee It Up for the Troops and various other local veterans’ organizations.
Chris Fearn’s one-man Golf Marathon, which supported Tee It Up for the Troops, was an unbelievable battle of determination by Chris who fought the rain and wind elements under cart path only conditions and set a new, personal record of 227 holes golfed in one day!
Spotting for him, cheering him on, and occasionally holding an umbrella or drying a ball while he played through afternoon squalls, member volunteers were critical to his success of completing an astounding 227 holes! Fearn also attributes his success to the many veterans who came out to support him, several of whom he has coached for three years now as part of the On-Course Foundation’s Simpson Cup Team.
“It really is motivating to look over and see these guys here supporting me,” Fearn said. “I’m always so humbled for the opportunity to serve them in return for all they have done for us.”
The day concluded with a celebratory dinner provided by the Disabled American Veterans. Attendees were treated to a Lowcountry feast and enjoyed meeting many of the honored guests, including the Guests of Honor, DeWitt Osborne, of the Salute Military Golf Association and Jason Faircloth, founder of the Disable Golf Association of America, the first organization of its kind.
Tuesday kicked off with the Veterans March and Rally. Complete with a march of more than 100 veterans from all branches of the service, presentation of the colors, and a heartfelt performance of patriotic songs, including each of the armed service songs from each military branch and a beautiful rendition of our national anthem, performed by the Dataw Singers, a choral group led by Dataw member Tim McGrath.
A golf tournament for veterans of all ages and their supporters was played on Tuesday on both of the Dataw Island Golf Courses. The Veterans Golf Classic supports Tee it Up for the Troops with beneficiaries such as the Fisher House, Warfighter Sports, the On-Course Foundation, and the Warrior Canine Connection, to name just a few.
“Something magical happens when playing golf-hitting that little white ball down the fairway with your buddies pays therapeutic values and life lasting dividends for America’s wounded, disabled and injured warriors,” said event chair Col. Glenn Blackburn, US Army Ret. “It teaches them that they can improvise, adapt and overcome their disability and achieve success. Dataw Island provides a wonderful venue for them to ignite and display happiness.”
After a fun round of golf, attendees convened at a luncheon to celebrate the service and sacrifice of many men and women, which featured testimonies provided by wounded veterans, including an inspiring presentation by DeWitt, who told the teary-eyed crowd a story many of them could relate to all-too-well – a story of challenge, adversity, perseverance, and overcoming. Dataw was honed by the SCGA with the presentation of a framed flag and plaque. Another highlight each year is the presentation of the Quilt of Valor; this year, the labor of love was given to DeWitt as a thank you for his service and sacrifice. Dave Luzzi emceed the presentation of a patriotic golf bag to Bob Hopkins in recognition for all he does each year to serve fellow veterans.
The week was completed by a Veterans Breakfast with Col. Glenn Blackburn serving as speaker. Blackburn spoke about the evolution of Dataw Island’s efforts in support of veterans, including the contributions to helping wounded or disabled veterans regain their confidence and independence through the game of golf.
Michele Weaber, also a Dataw member, brought the crowd of veterans and their spouses to tears with an emotive reading of the poem, “Forever Proud and Free,” a reading which has been more than a year in the making. Prior to his passing, 2017 Veteran of the Year Jack Cummings had personally requested the reading.
A moment of silence was also held to honor Dataw veterans who have passed.
Another highlight included the naming of this year’s Dataw Island Veteran of the Year … Jim Morrissey! Morrissey has played an integral part in Dataw’s events and contributions for veterans in recent years. Morrissey served in the US Army through Vietnam and then, as a civilian, worked at LaGuardia Airport and was the first of his counterparts to make the call to shut down operations during the 9/11 attacks, quite possibly saving more lives.
Al Sears, also a Dataw member, was also recognized for his continued contributions. Presenting the award was event emcee Bo Tobin, who also thanked Bob “Hoppy” Hopkins for his ongoing contributions, and Dataw staff, particularly Dave Britton and Chris Fearn.
This year, SC Gov. Henry McMaster also made a Proclamation to name Nov. 6 as “Tee It Up for the Troops Day.” Col. Blackburn presented the Proclamation to Britton to hang in the Pro Shop for all to ap
Thank you Tee It Up for the Troops-Dataw Island organizers, volunteers, sponsors, supporters and veterans for your support of the Tee It Up for the Troops mission to honor, remember, respect and support all those who serve(d) in the Armed Forces of the United States and for helping our heroes! What a great Veterans Week of events!