A group of 145 golfers had plenty of fun Aug. 17 negotiating the fairways and greens of The Bluffs Golf Course in Vermillion.
They did more than that, however. They also raised a lot of green.
The participants in the second annual Hy-Vee Scramble for SESDAC helped collect $16,296 on the links that day to help make the lives of several individuals who call the Vermillion area home be just a bit better.
More than just the golfers helped raise the funds for the SESDAC, Inc Foundation. The participation of a host of local sponsors made the annual event a success, said Ron Avery, manager of Hy-Vee in Vermillion.
"We have four corporate sponsors – Hy-Vee Vermillion, Broadcaster Press, KVHT Radio and Budweiser," he said. "We're also lucky to have a number of presenting sponsors."
"The day was perfect. The weather was just right," Avery said. "It was beautiful, sunny and 80 degrees. We had a great afternoon, and we followed up the golf tournament with a prime rib dinner for all of the golfers and the volunteers."
"The SESDAC Foundation, Inc.," said Jerry Tracy, executive director of SESDAC, Inc, "was established to augment SESDAC. It (the golf scramble) is our only special event fundraiser for the foundation, so we are extremely excited and happy that Hy-Vee has continued to sponsor us as their community partner that they wanted to collaborate with for this event."
Sweetening the pot just a bit was the actions of the golf scramble's championship team. The foursome of golfers netted $400 by placing first in the tournament, and the team donated its winnings to the foundation, increasing the total amount raised from $15,896 to $16,296.
The SESDAC Foundation was chartered in June 2000. "The foundation board's job is to find ways to augment areas of SESDAC that need a little extra financial help," Tracy said. "Historically, that has included subsidizing individuals so they can go on trips to participate in things like Special Olympics, it has included the purchase of adaptive and specialized equipment in order to assist people with daily activities or daily needs, from things as simple as adaptive equipment to help them eat, to far more expensive items, such as the addition of adaptive equipment to the Vermillion Transit buses so that they can carry bikes and wheelchairs and items of that nature."
The foundation was also developed to help address the internal problem of staff turnover often faced by SESDAC.
"We look at ways to bring additional training and other things to help entice staff as well as educate staff in the field of developmental disabilities, and more importantly, in the field of supporting people with a disability," Tracy said. "I think we've done a number of things in regards to enhancing programs that we have here, adaptive equipment, putting money toward staff and staff needs, and improving our facilities around the community.
"The foundation has never had enough money to allow it to do a 'brick and mortar' type of project and then show everyone the building," he said. "The foundation takes off the bites in chunks that it can, and it invests it in people's lives. That's their main objective."
SESDAC provides residential services, day services and other support to 77 individuals in Clay and Union counties. It also operates Vermillion Public Transit, which is a community-wide entity.
"The make-up of SESDAC has changed in that we also have a family support program, with two coordinators who work in 11 counties in southeast South Dakota," Tracy said. "We work with 80 families in those 11 counties, to help children stay in their homes, and work with school districts and work with other entities and assistive organizations to help families provide for their children.
"We support people with cognitive impairments," he said. "Our mission is to allow these people to live their lives and work and socialize in their communities. Our job is to break down barriers so that they can experience the same things that you and I do."
"When I came to town a couple years ago, I told Kurt Kuiper at the time that I wanted to do a charity golf outing, and we ended up picking the SESDAC Foundation as our charity," Avery said. "I'm just a firm believer that, as Hy-Vee, we need to be a good corporate citizen, and part of that is giving back to our community."
Hy-Vee Vermillion has found plenty of ways to give back to people of all ages in the city, through such programs as Cash for Students, which in the past two years has provided over $13,000 in funding to local schools and other organizations that serve youth.
"Vermillion is important to us," he said. "That's why we choose to do this. This was a great event, it was great for the community, and I was just astonished at how the community has rallied around this tournament. All of our sponsors have rallied for us, and they are all ready to be on board for next year. It's just great for the community."
Presenting sponsors for the golf scramble are Coca-Cola, Polaris, First Dakota Bank, Brunick Furniture, Sara Lee, Diamond Shine Janitorial, Howalt McDowell Insurance, Huska Dental, Roberts Dairy, Barefoot Wine, Frito Lay, Hershey Foods, Kraft Foods, D&G Concrete Construction, Sanford Hospital, Melby Appraisals, Absolut Vodka and Holiday Inn Express.
A third tier of support, known as business sponsors, also contributed to the event's success. They are Bank of the West, CorTrust Bank, C.W. Suter Refrigeration, Rock Communications, Quality Motors, The Coffee Cup Fuel Stop, Thurman Law, Vermillion Veterinary Clinic, Pump 'N Pak, Noll Collection Service, Coyote Convenience, PrintSource, Dairy Queen and First Bank and Trust.