By Dave Ongie
Fifty-four years ago, a young attorney showed up at Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Virginia, to help start a basketball team.
Jim McGlothlin learned three things that day, and the third lesson has made a lasting impact on countless lives.
“First of all, the Mountain Mission kids didn’t know anything about basketball,” McGlothlin said. “Second, to my dismay, I found out I didn’t know anything about coaching. And third, to my great satisfaction, I learned that the Mountain Mission kids were the neatest kids I’ve ever been around.
“They were just the greatest kids you’ve ever seen, and 54 years later, let me tell you, it’s still the truth.”
McGlothlin relayed that story as he formally announced another blockbuster fundraiser that will ensure Mountain Mission, which was founded in 1921, has the financial security to positively impact the lives of children well into its second century of operation. On September 10, The Olde Farm in Bristol, Virginia, will host The American Legends for Mountain Mission Kids, a celebrity golf tournament McGlothlin hopes will bring in between $35 million and $40 million to bolster the school’s endowment.
Patrons will have the opportunity to either watch or play alongside 10 legends from the world of sports. Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player – who teamed up with the late, great Arnold Palmer to raise $15 million for Mountain Mission in 2010 – will be back along with golfers Lee Trevino, Betsy King, Lanny Wadkins and former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Jerry West round out the star-studded field.
Nicklaus has fond memories of participating in The Big 3 for Mountain Mission Kids and is excited about the prospect of a return engagement.
“Looking back, the Big 3 event was an incredibly enjoyable day,” Nicklaus said in a statement. “There was such a sense of camaraderie and good will on the course, and knowing that everything that took place would benefit such a worthy cause made it even more special.”
All proceeds from the tournament will go to Mountain Mission, a non-profit school in Grundy that provides a high-quality education for at-risk children, many of whom have been lifted out of extreme poverty or violence. The school has housed, fed and educated more than 20,000 kids over the past 97 years, and 95 percent of them go on to college.
When Palmer, Nicklaus and Player joined forces at The Olde Farm eight years ago, it shattered the previous record for money raised during a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. The record books will have to be re-written once again, because McGlothlin said over $17 million had already been raised at the time of the press conference on April 25 that officially launched the event. Food City has signed on as a title sponsor and Gregory Pharmaceuticals has committed to being a major sponsor.
The PGA Tour will once again sanction the charity tournament, and Finchem said the money raised for Mountain Mission will once again have an impact that reverberates well beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“At the time, we didn’t know the impact it would have,” Finchem said of the Big Three event. “Because when it was announced that it was the single-largest fundraiser in the history of the PGA Tour, it had a very positive effect on what people in communities around the country think they can do.
“We’re delighted to sanction this new edition. Again, the numbers that Jim is throwing out there are incredible. But the reason we’re so excited about it is that, number one, it’s going to help a great cause. But number two, it’s a message to the country that these kind of things can happen if you get the right folks together and have the leadership.”
There are a few different ways to help the cause. Those wanting to play in the event can do so for $100,000, and admission for spectators is $1,000. There are sponsor opportunities available, and more information can be found at theamericanlegends.com.