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2018 USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award Finalists

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The American Junior Golf Association and the USGA are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2018 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, which recognizes these junior golfers for their hard work to give back to their communities.

The USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award honors one male and one female junior golfer annually who demonstrate leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the Leadership Links program: a joint initiative founded by the USGA and AJGA in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism. The recipients of the 2018 USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award will be announced on Tuesday, May 9, and will be honored at the Polo Golf Dinner of Champions at the USGA headquarters on Tuesday, June 26, during the Polo Golf Junior Classic in N.J.

The finalists for the 2018 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award are:

Grace Chen, Sunnyvale, Calif., Class of 2018

In her early childhood, Chen was diagnosed with leukemia but, with the help of golf, overcame the disease. In 2009 she started her own charity called Gracious Life Foundation to use golf to help raise awareness and money for children affected by leukemia. Through her foundation, she has donated money to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, in Calif., where she was treated, and helped build golf facilities at specialty camps, hospitals and the Ronald McDonald House. Because of her charity efforts, she was awarded the 2012 U.S. Kids Golf Peggy Kirk Bell Award which recognizes junior golfers who have positively impacted their community.

Cade Hancock, Elizabethtown, N.C., Class of 2019

Hancock chose to work with Operation Smile in honor of his sister who was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. Operation Smile provides free surgeries to children in developing countries who were born with cleft lip, cleft palates and other facial deformities. Through his first-hand knowledge and an appreciation for the work which Operation Smile performs, he has raised more than $25,000 from more than 125 different donors. His work has provided surgeries to 53 children, giving them hope for a positive future. In addition to his involvement with Operation Smile, he is an active volunteer with his high school through various service projects.

Ian Johnston, Swisher, Iowa, Class of 2019

In 2016, Johnston’s brother died of an overdose on heroin. The news rocked the family, but through the adversity, Johnston decided to do something. He started a GoFundMe page to benefit the Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC) and quickly raised more than $7,000. He joined the AJGA Leadership Links program and raised an additional $13,590. Through his platform, he has done media interviews and helped raise awareness for the opioid crisis in his community. Recently he started working with ASAC as a junior ambassador. Through this program he travels to local schools to share his story and raise awareness for the problem of substance abuse.

Gerry Jones Jr., Suffolk, Va., Class of 2019

At a young age, Jones joined The First Tee and has progressed through the various levels of the program, learning valuable life skills, as well as a passion for golf and giving back. Annually he volunteers hundreds of hours as a Life Skills Coach and role model for younger members of The First Tee. He also speaks at various fundraising functions and helps raise money through an annual golf-a-thon. For the golf-a-thon, he leads the efforts with contacting donors, securing gifts and playing more than 100 holes of golf in a single day. Through his fundraising efforts Jones has given more than $15,000 to The First Tee of Hampton Roads. In addition to his philanthropic efforts, he is a member of the quiz bowl team at his high school and is an accomplished violinist. He uses his talent with the violin to raise money for charity as well as playing for residents at a retirement home once a month.

Jack Maguire, Ridgefield, Conn., Class of 2019

Maguire decided to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association because of how the disease affected members of his family and a need he saw for awareness and treatment of the disease. Through the Leadership Links program, he started a Birdies for Charity campaign where people pledged donations for each birdie he made in competition. Through his participation, Transamerica matched his fundraising dollars and helped him exceed his overall fundraising goal and donate more than $17,000. Maguire also volunteers with his high school on various service projects and is the starting varsity quarterback and No. 1 golfer.

William Mirams, Stroudsburg, Pa., Class of 2019

In 2014 Mirams started the Doreen Mirams Charity in honor of his grandmother who passed away from breast cancer. His grandmother loved the game of golf and inspired him to write a book and eventually start the charity to help people suffering from the effects of breast cancer. Over the past four years the charity has raised more than $70,000 to help families with financial needs surrounding their treatments. Mirams raised most of the money through an annual golf tournament, the Doreen Mirams Golf Tournament, but also hosts a mini golf event and collects donations from his local community.

Madison Slayton, Wichita, Kan., Class of 2020

Slayton works to raise money for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. She uses several different avenues to do this, including a Birdies for Charity campaign, social media and her sweet 16 birthday party. On her 16th birthday, she asked friends and family to give cash which she then donated directly to her charity. Through her efforts she has raised almost $5,000 for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. In addition to fundraising, she donates countless hours with U.S. Kids Golf, junior golf clinics and her local Young Life organization.

Ashleigh Stoehr, Houston, Texas, Class of 2020

Stoehr began fundraising when her family was forced to evacuate their home in Houston following Hurricane Harvey. She organized a golf-a-thon at a course near where her family was staying at the time and worked with the staff to raise money for hurricane relief efforts. Family, friends and strangers donated money for each hole she played with the total reaching over $15,000. In addition to raising money for hurricane relief she also donates many hours with her local FCA, National Charity League and the Helping Hands Club.

Divya Tadimeti, Palo Alto, Calif., Class of 2019

Tadimeti began volunteering with East Palo Alto Junior Golf after a chance encounter with the kids involved left a lasting impression on her. EPA Jr. Golf teaches kids in low- and middle-class neighborhoods golf. Their idea is that kids who are involved in sports become better members of the community. She has raised more than $1,000 for the program, but the real impact of her work has been through the hundreds of hours she has spent volunteering. She works as a coach to the children involved in the program, helps develop and maintain the program’s website, has gotten friends involved and plays orchestra gigs to donate the money directly back to the charity.

About Leadership Links

Since 2009, the Leadership Links program has helped more than 2,500 junior golfers make a difference in their communities by generating more than $2.2 million in charitable contributions to more than 2,000 charities and the AJGA's Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant.

Leadership Links is a program that allows the AJGA to further its mission to help develop young men and women by teaching charitable-giving skills and service-oriented practices at an early age. This program gives juniors all the tools necessary to donate their time, talent and resources to local charities and the ACE Grant. Visit www.ajga.org/ll for more.

About the USGA

The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 annual amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches, attracting players and fans from more than 160 countries. Together with The R&A, the USGA governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, equipment standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings. The USGA’s reach is global with a working jurisdiction in the United States, its territories and Mexico, serving more than 25 million golfers and actively engaging 150 golf associations.

The USGA is one of the world’s foremost authorities on research, development and support of sustainable golf facility management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the game’s history and invests in the development of the game through the delivery of its services and its ongoing “For the Good of the Game” grants program. Additionally, the USGA’s Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries. For more information about the USGA, visit usga.org.

About the AJGA

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018, the American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls, ages 12-19) of more than 6,900 members from 50 states and 60 foreign countries. Through initiatives like the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant, a financial assistance program, and Leadership Links, a service-oriented platform that teaches juniors charitable-giving skills, the AJGA fosters the growth of golf’s next generation.

TaylorMade-adidas Golf became the AJGA’s National Sponsor in 2016 after more than 25 years of support. Rolex, which is in its fourth decade of AJGA sponsorship, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2017, adidas joined the AJGA as a Premier Partner, serving as the Official Apparel and Footwear of the AJGA.

AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 900 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Ariya Jutanugarn, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Anna Nordqvist, Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson.