Emily Gimpel’s first encounter with pediatric cancer came when her cousin was diagnosed with leukemia. After another young member of her country club was also diagnosed with cancer, Emily, 16, took action. With the assistance of a few close friends, she created the Junior Golf Clubs Cancer (JGCC), raising more than $30,000. Through her leadership and volunteer efforts, Emily is the recipient of this year’s Presidents’ Youth Leadership Award.
This award recognizes one boy and one girl junior golfer who demonstrated leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the USGA • AJGA Youth Leadership Club – a joint initiative founded in 2005 by the United States Golf Association and the American Junior Golf Association to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism. Gimpel, who lives in Lafayette Hill, Pa., joins fellow golfer Zach Herr of New Hope, Pa., as recipients for their selfless efforts in their communities.
Gimpel and Herr will be honored by USGA President James Vernon and AJGA Board of Directors President Gayle Champagne during the Rolex Dinner of Champions Friday, July 3, 2009, during the Rolex Tournament of Champions at Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Additionally, they will each receive four tickets to a U.S. Open of their choice, access to the USGA hospitality tent during the U.S. Open, and an automatic entry into the 2009 Rolex Tournament of Champions – the most prestigious junior golf stroke play event in the country.
After receiving inspiration from her cousin’s fight with leukemia, which she ultimately won, Emily developed the idea to start JGCC in 2004 when she realized the unused golf clubs in her garage could be put to good use. She began collecting golf clubs from local country clubs and selling them on Ebay, as well as in golf stores, in an effort to raise money. The money her organization collects goes to St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, where her cousin received treatment.
Emily didn’t stop there, however. Believing it’s important to get young people involved in community service through golf, Emily created a charity golf event. Held at Whitemarsh Country Club, the tournament brought the fundraising totals to more than $30,000 for St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children.
Along the way, Emily’s organization donated an additional 1,500 golf clubs to the First Tee of Montgomery County. Her program continues to connect juniors to helping others through the game of golf.
“I grew up playing golf and I grew up with a background in volunteering,” Emily said. “I consider myself very blessed, and my parents taught me that giving back was important. I wanted to incorporate golf and giving back. I think it’s important for younger kids to get involved because golf is a great sport where you learn the important life values.”
Emily and her friends and family have worked hard at making JGCC successful. A lot of time, commitment and dedication have gone into collecting golf clubs and preparing for the golf tournament, but to Emily it’s worth it.
“There are a lot of rewarding things about being involved in JGCC,” Emily said. “One of the most fulfilling is watching my friends and their reactions to giving back. We visit St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children and it makes you feel really happy.”
In addition to seeing her friends’ response to her organization, Emily has personally seen JGCC impact the lives of her family and those in her community. She is amazed by the amount of money they raise, not necessarily in dollars, but in seeing the result of where the money goes – to benefit pediatric cancer research. Her family has shown tremendous support for Emily’s ideas and organization. Her parents are always willing to lend a hand, and her two younger siblings love making signs and posters.
With everything she’s gone through, Emily believes the most valuable lesson she’s learned is to keep everything in perspective.
“Sometimes people get caught up in different things, and with what I’ve been through, the silly things don’t seem as important,” she says. “Giving back through JGCC is the most rewarding experience so far in my life.
In her award application, Emily writes: “I have watched my friends, younger siblings, and parents react to the hope this project has inspired. JGCC is not only important for making a difference right now, but for making an impact on golf and our community in the future. It is as much about raising the spirits of the children and families who are facing it, as it is about raising the much-needed funds. It represents what is best about the game of golf, including caring for others.”
JGCC takes golf club donations throughout the year and will host the third annual Adult-Junior Invitational Golf Tournament this August. With a desire to play golf in college, Emily wants to continue Junior Golf Clubs Cancer for as long as possible, with the hopes that her younger brother and sister will continue to help the organization grow and raise money. Because of Emily and the supporters of her mission, more kids will find hope for a brighter life.
For more information about the USGA-AJGA Presidents' Youth Leadership Award, please call AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.