Divya Manthena of Camarillo, Calif., has been named a recipient of the 2013 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, the United States Golf Association and American Junior Golf Association announced Tuesday.
The USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award was created to recognize one boy and one girl junior golfer 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.
Manthena and boys recipient Patrick Cover of Huntersville, N.C., will be honored and formally presented the award on July 10 in Lancaster, Pa., during the Rolex Tournament of Champions. Additionally, they will each receive tickets to a future U.S. Open and an automatic entry into the 2013 Rolex Tournament of Champions, one of the world’s most prestigious junior golf events.
Children suffering from cancer, and youngsters with special needs in the United States... poor children and farmers facing hardships in India... victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes and flooding.
Those causes populate the mission page of the Krishak website, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that 15-year-old Divya Manthena started three years ago. Krishak’s motto is “give while you live,” a phrase that she personifies, not just through her organization, but through every aspect of life.
Manthena’s family has long been dedicated to helping others. Manthena’s great-grandfather was a freedom fighter in India and her great-grandmother was the founder of an orphanage.
“The inspiration from my family elders plus my personal experiences during visits to India where I saw people suffering from natural disasters and diseases led me to start Krishak,” Manthena said. “I wanted to do something to help, and the immediate way I could was to use my talents.”
An avid golfer since age 7, Manthena has combined her skills on the course with her passion for helping those in need by hosting charity golf tournaments. Her first tournament in 2011, organized in conjunction with the American Red Cross to raise money for Japanese tsunami relief, raised more than $6,000.
In 2012, Manthena began work with the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., to host her second annual event. With her father, Manthena made all the fliers for the event, selected the venue and worked with St. Jude’s Hospital to set up a website where tournament players could donate online.
In early 2013, Manthena and her father expanded the platform of her charity tournaments by organizing a tournament committee to help make this year’s event more successful. For the 2013 event, Manthena chose an organization that she had past experience with, Special Olympics Ventura County.
As a volunteer with the Special Olympics golf camp, Manthena has learned as much as she is teaching.
“They [Special Olympics participants] have taught me how to be patient and to be respectful,” Manthena said.
The third annual charity golf tournament hosted by Manthena’s Krishak organization was held on March 22 and raised more than $13,000, but the fundraising efforts for the Special Olympics Ventura County have not stopped there. In conjunction with students at California Lutheran University, Manthena will raffle VIP tickets to a Justin Bieber concert in June, with a goal to raise $20,000.
“I believe the game of golf can give back to society in many ways,” Manthena said. “On one hand, it can provide entertainment and drama, and on the other hand raise money to help people in need.”
Manthena hopes to turn her passion for helping people into a career. Her goal is to earn a college golf scholarship and eventually become a pediatrician.
USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award – Past Recipients
2012 Brandon Pierce (Covington, La.)
Cassie Wang (Lenexa, Kan.)
2011 John Farese (Sayville, N.Y.)
Natalie Turk (Franklin, Tenn.)
2010 Drew Johnson (Oak Ridge, N.C.)
Jacqueline Calamaro (Newtown Square, Pa.)
2009 Zach Herr (New Hope, Pa.)
Emily Gimpel (Lafayette Hill, Pa.)
2008 Smylie Kaufman (Birmingham, Ala.)
Kelsey Conway (Ventura, Calif.)
2007 Joseph Suarez (Richmond, Va.)
Angela Villela (Sylmar, Calif.)
2006 Adam Michel (Orinda, Calif.)
Katrina Delen-Briones (San Francisco, Calif.)