Amazing how things happen for a reason….15 years ago, a now long time supporter of Easter Seals, Toby Holt, was introduced to Kelly Klein, the ESGH Development Director. Not a working function, just a regular friendly get together. Kelly had been trying to get a golf tournament started and Toby at the time was helping several local sports celeb-rities run their own tournaments. On the other hand, I had only been in the Houston sports radio market for three years and I was looking to do some-thing with my own connections and to help out a non-profit. And there you have it. It all came together and we are still working together, have raised over a million dollars for the agency and have even bigger goals fifteen years later.
When we first started working on this tournament, ESGH had four impressive programs and they have grown to now have nine. One of the reasons I continue working on this is just that. Easter Seals makes incredible use of the funds this event and others raise. They know that every year, the need is even greater and they are here serving greater Houston and ensuring that they get as many of the needs covered as they can. Their ROI is immense and less than a dime per dollar is administrative costs. So I go to bed at night knowing that the energy our group puts into holding this event is incredibly worth it. Not to mention that I am as proud as I can be to be the host, I hear over and over again that this tournament is the best in town – super organized and well worth the donation…where else can you get entry into a great party for you and a guest, food, beverages, a good time, golf and more food and beverages, Nike golf shoes and an even greater time?!
I have a beautiful and talented wife, a great family, fantastic children, an incredible group of friends and a job that I was born to do. In other words I have led a very good life and have been very lucky not to have dealt with any significant and life changing events with my children or wife. And about this time every year, is our annual golf tournament. It kicks off the holiday season for me – especially since it is traditionally the Thursday before Thanks-giving…Gives me a lot of cause for reflection. And it is always underscored by one of ESGH’s client beneficiaries that we have speak either at the tournament or the night before at our “Tee Off Party”.
I have heard parents speak to the power of a program that helped their child, and that saved their family; I have seen more than one father of a child with a disability get his entire company behind him to support the event. Larry Schofield from BP has raised close to $100,000 through his co-workers at BP and the BP Fabric of America Fund. His son has benefitted from the ESGH programs and as far as I can tell – that speaks volumes. I have heard teenagers speak about going through therapy, going to camp, going on to high school and then going to college. I have heard twins with disabilities talk about playing their favorite game-baseball…and you know that’s up my alley! I have had the honor of listening to Matthew, a now 13-year-old who has raised over $30,000 for the programs that he got help from. And this year, we get the privilege of listening to Maggie who at the age of two was diagnosed with leukemia, went through chemo and radiation and was considered afterwards to be brain-dead. ESGH’s newest program, which was created by parents, teachers and therapists, is in a nut shell because of kids like Maggie. She wasn’t brain dead – far from it. But she isn’t able to talk and she is hearing impaired. SNApps4kids or special needs apps for kids is based completely on the ease and in-expense of using ipads and such, and is not only a way of communication but also therapy. It is transformative for the entire family. Maggie is coming to tell our supporters what she can do with her ipad and thank us for raising funds to help this program so that more children like her will be able to have a fulfilling life and one that includes communication.
I am proud of this event and I think people come back, year after year, not only because they have a great day of golf, but because they know they have really changed the lives of kids in our community. Just like the last 15 years have done for me.
By John Granato, Host of John Granato Celebrity Golf Classic and 1560The Game Sports Radio Talk Show Host and Fox Sports Houston Post Game Host