Volunteer goes the extra mile

Michigan woman traveling on tour, fulfilling 'mission'
2011-02-23T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T09:37:46Z Volunteer goes the extra mileMichael J. Craven Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 23, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Faith Tanner was a little late arriving to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for her volunteer gig at this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

The course opened for practice rounds Monday morning. Tanner didn't pull up until Tuesday afternoon.

Forgive her.

She was working until Sunday evening at the PGA Tour event in Los Angeles, then spent Monday behind the wheel of her Honda Civic Hybrid, driving nearly 500 miles to Tucson.

For Tanner, who is in the midst of a grueling nine-month journey (mostly by car) that will take her to 37 tour events, this is only the beginning. She plans to volunteer at every tour event through September. Match Play at Dove Mountain is No. 8 on her schedule.

Tanner and husband Larry had planned on a 2010 trek for some time, but when Larry died from a brain tumor in August 2009, she vowed to make it happen in 2011.

Both had been approved to work last year's Ryder Cup in Wales, and she carried his picture from hole to hole in her duties as a media marshal.

"So he made it after all. He walked all 18," Tanner said. "I'm completing our dream, but I wanted to make it bigger than him and I. So I made it into a mission so that I'd stick to it. How many widows say, 'Oh, we were going to travel and we were going to go to Europe,' and they don't do it. So it's a mission. I've got a mission. It gives me purpose."

There's a difference, Tanner says, between simply volunteering and actually striving to make a positive impact.

As she guarded the rope gate that blocked off the entrance to the putting green Tuesday, Tanner was actively recruiting. She chatted with spectators, encouraging them to volunteer at next year's event.

As Tanner voices in her mission statement, volunteering is like giving to charity. By acquiring volunteers, the PGA Tour saves money on wages that can be donated to charity.

Betty Wacker, a 68-year- old Dove Mountain resident and volunteer, was guarding the area adjacent to Tanner's post Tuesday. Wacker said she was beyond impressed by Tanner's mission.

"Promoting volunteerism and the whole bit, that's what it's all about," Wacker said. "If they didn't have volunteers here, this would not even be possible."

Of course, Tanner's quest to travel the country for such a long period comes at a price.

The 55-year-old is no millionaire looking for a way to pass time; rather, she's a working real estate appraiser in northern Michigan.

Tanner took a sabbatical from her job and borrowed money from her retirement fund to pay for the journey, but it's still a struggle.

"I've gotten lost a few times," Tanner said with a smile. "I've had quite a few adventures. When I started out, I slept in my car - a rental car - in Maui with two strangers."

Tanner said she enjoys meeting new friends and making connections, many of whom have vowed to provide her with shelter along the way.

A pilot's wife and son, the "strangers" she shared the car with in Hawaii, will open their home to Tanner when she arrives in Houston in April.

While in Tucson, Tanner is staying with a cousin.

"It's an incredible feeling when people open their door for you," Tanner said. "I've met some amazing people out here."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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