If two local nonprofits have their way, the dreams of one little girl will continue to soar and the needs of thousands of local children will be fulfilled through Birdies & Butterflies, a Celebrity-Amateur Golf Tournament and Gala.
The Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation and the Tucson Conquistadores have joined forces to stage the first signature fundraiser.
"It is a very good partnership. Our missions are very similar: The Conquistadores help out special-needs athletics and youth sports projects. We are little more educationally oriented but get involved in sports projects as well," said John Green, who co-founded the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation with his wife, Roxanna, in memory of their daughter. Christina-Taylor was the only child killed in the Tucson shootings on Jan. 8, 2011.
"We are targeting kids who need a little extra boost or a little extra help to achieve their goals and dreams. That is what Christina would have wanted," John Green said.
The foundation has awarded more than $210,000 this year to local organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, Youth on Their Own, St. Mark's United Methodist Church Snak Paks for Kids Program and technology support (including more than 60 laptops and computers) for elementary and middle schools. Additionally, the foundation funded $52,000 to the 9/12 Generation Project, a nationwide educational project that promotes community involvement and citizenship.
"What we have found is that there are bigger foundations and projects out there that will help certain target groups, but we can make a real difference in that $10,000 to $25,000 range or even smaller amounts for summer school programs and other school programs where budget cuts have taken a toll," Green said.
The Tucson Conquistadores, who are marking 50 years, began a widespread commitment to local youth in 1962; since then the organization has donated $26 million to recipients, including First Tee of Tucson, Tucson and Pima County Junior Golf Programs, The Field of Dreams/Challenger Little League sports complex, Pima County Special Olympics, the Educational Enrichment Foundation, YMCA of Southern Arizona and Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, Sierra Vista and Nogales.
The Conquistadores, who serve as the leadership team for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, support many projects through the Tucson Conquistadores Foundation. The foundation will use a portion of the proceeds from Birdies & Butterflies to support the Southern Arizona Indoor Sports Center at Curtis Park. The 40,000-square-foot facility, to be built at La Cholla Boulevard and River Road, will accommodate up to five indoor basketball courts or eight volleyball courts.
"Our mission is to help youth sports of all descriptions. We do small things from supplying Little League gloves and uniforms and tuition for kids to play sports who otherwise couldn't afford it, all the way to bricks and mortar," said John Miller, a 12-year member of the Conquistadores. He is co-chairman of the upcoming fundraiser with Lisa Benzing, a board member of the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation.
Benzing said the partnership offers a great opportunity to focus on all children, including the underprivileged - a cause near to Christina-Taylor's heart, along with her love for the arts, sports and leadership programs.
"The Tucson community continues to be a loving, giving community and is certainly behind the Greens and their efforts to do for children who don't have the advantages other children have in this world," Benzing said. "I think Roxanna and John want to foster the good works that Christina intended with her energies and her passions."
IF YOU GO
Birdies & Butterflies Celebrity-Amateur Golf Tournament and Gala
Celebrity-AM Golf Tournament
When:Nov. 3 - 8 a.m. breakfast, 10 a.m. shotgun start, 6 p.m. gala
Where:Starr Pass Golf Club, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd.
Cost: Golf tournament: $2,000 per person ($1,200 is tax-deductible) or $10,000 per foursome ($6,000 is tax deductible); Gala: $250 per person ($160 tax-deductible)
Tickets include an 18-hole modified scramble format, a $500 shopping spree in the Nike Mobile Pro Shop and two gala dinner tickets per player.
Foursomes will be paired with a celebrity or professional athlete; special guests include legendary Los Angeles Dodgers coach Tommy Lasorda, U.S. Senior Open champion Don Pooley, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and former astronaut Mark Kelly. Other celebrities include current and former professional baseball players Ryne Sandberg, Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis; former professional football player Rodney Peete; and former Arizona Wildcats Ricky Hunley, John Kaiser, LaMonte Hunley and Randy Robbins.
Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at email@example.com