The American Junior Golf Association and the United States Golf Association are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2015 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award.
The USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award was created to recognize one male and one female 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. The recipients of the 2015 USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award will be announced on May 20, and they will be honored at the Rolex Dinner of Champions on Wednesday, June 24, during the Rolex Tournament of Champions in Sunriver, Ore.
The finalists for the 2015 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award are:
AJ Beechler, Pinehurst, N.C., Class of 2018
Beechler has raised $1,700 by placing small cards explaining his charities around his family’s restaurant to collect donations and tips from the patrons. He also volunteers for Operation Footsteps, an organization that collects shoes for families in need. In 2014, Beechler volunteered at the U.S. Open in Pinehurst as a standard bearer and at the Special Olympics as a buddy for the Olympians. Beechler pledged to donate $2 per round of golf he plays during the year.
Hannah Berman, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Class of 2016
Berman started a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation called “Hitting it with Hannah.” She hits tee shots on a par 4 for golfers at her home course for a $20 donation. Through this, she has raised more than $10,000. In 2014, her Birdies for Charity campaign raised more than $6,000 and so far this year, she has raised $4,700. She also volunteers with various organizations, including the First Tee Donation Station at the Jacksonville Golf and Country Club where they collect golf clubs, bags, shoes and clothes.
Meghan Fahey, Villanova, Pa., Class of 2017
Fahey participated in Birdies for Charity in 2014. During her time raising money for the Michelle Deasey ’17 Memorial Scholarship Foundation and the ACE Grant, she secured more than 120 different donors and was the top fundraiser in 2014. The foundation is a scholarship fund set up in the memory of her childhood friend Michelle Deasey. Meghan also volunteers her time with Our Mother of Sorrows Soup Kitchen preparing meals for shut-ins and homeless, the Middle Atlantic Blind Golf Association and The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia.
Mikayla Fitzpatrick, Phoenix, Ariz., Class of 2016
Fitzpatrick participates in Birdies for Charity and raises money for the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the ACE Grant. TGen conducts pancreatic cancer research and was instrumental in the life of a close family friend. Fitzpatrick has raised $3,555, and of that amount, $1,777.50 benefited her charities. She was able to present the check to the president of the foundation, world renowned pancreatic cancer specialist, Dr. Von Hoff.
Parker Graham, Leesburg, Va., Class of 2015
Graham started a charitable golf tournament to help raise money for his friend Mathias, a 12-year-old boy with Osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. In April of 2014, Graham held his first tournament and silent auction. The “Team Mathias Kicking Cancer Charity Golf Event” raised thousands of dollars to help Mathias and raise awareness about Osteosarcoma. In December of 2014 Mathias passed away, but Graham continues to raise money in his honor. In addition, his Birdies for Charity campaign have raised more than $1,000.
Nick Leibold, Littleton, Colo., Class of 2016
Leibold is involved with the Birdies for Charity program in which he is able to raise money for The First Tee of Denver and the ACE Grant. Leibold received pledges for birdies he made in competitive tournament rounds in June and July of 2014. He raised more than $11,000 for the First Tee of Denver and the ACE Grant. His efforts placed him in the top-three nationally for Birdies for Charity and raising money for a junior golf charity.
Mika Liu, Bradenton, Fla., Class of 2017
Liu arranged a golf outing, the Nicklaus Children’s Charity Classic, as part of her goal of raising $15,000 for charity. She also gave back through her Nicklaus Children’s Putting competition and Playing fore their Future which benefits the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. Liu raised more than $13,000 and put in 80+ volunteer hours.
Nate Menon, Wyomissing, Pa., Class of 2017
For the past three years, Menon has raised money for juvenile arthritis patients through a “No Pain, Kids Gain” Golf-a-Thon. By having sponsors donate a flat donation for the amount of holes he can play in a day as well as an amount per birdie he makes, Menon has raised more than $19,000. In 2014, Menon added the American Cancer Society to the charities he supports through a “No Pain, Kids Gain” Golf-a-Thon.
Emilia Migliaccio, Cary, N.C., Class of 2017
Migliaccio started her charitable giving through the Birdies for Skin Cancer in 2011. She started by asking for $1 per birdie and each year she has asked for more money as she made more birdies. Over three years, Migliaccio raised more than $15,000. In 2014, Migliaccio became a member of the AJGA as well as a member of Leadership Links and was able to raise $3,600 for a total of $18,600.
Scott Odell, Claxton, Ga., Class of 2015
Odell is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and uses that platform to raise money. Through his efforts he raised more than $7,000 for the ACE Grant and his FCA junior golf camp plus qualified for the USGA match to provide scholarships for the FCA golf camp. At Pinewood Christian Academy, he is a member of the National Honor Society, serves on the Student Council and is involved with organizations that promote community projects and fundraisers. Odell also volunteers at First Baptist Church Claxton by participating in youth fundraisers, mission trips and a kids’ camp.
Jack Rolle, Bethesda, Md., Class of 2017
Rolle was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 10, and after battling chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries he has been cancer-free since. He used his public-speaking skills to relay his story to fellow golfers, college students, coaches, doctors and donors. Rolle is also involved with Birdies for Charity and in 2014 was able to raise more than $6,000. Rolle has also been a part of the LilaBean Foundation, the American Cancer Society’s Coaches vs. Cancer, Golf for Hope and Children’s National Medical Center.
Erik Verhey, Reno, Nev., Class of 2017
Verhey organized a Golf-A-Thon to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern Nevada. He completed 120 holes, conducted media interviews and thanked the donors for participating. Verhey’s efforts allowed him to raise more than $6,000 to support the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern Nevada and the ACE Grant program. Verhey is also a member of the Manogue Minors, a music ensemble that provides music to nursing homes, hospitals and schools.
Blake Wagoner, Cornelius, N.C., Class of 2016
Wagoner, along with good friend Michael Sanders, provided continued leadership for the Dormie Cup, as the founders moved on to play college golf. The Dormie Cup is a golf fundraiser in which 24 junior golfers play a two-day match-play event. In order to qualify for the event, each player must raise at least $1,000 for charity. Wagoner has personally raised nearly $20,000 during the last two years through monetary donations as well as securing product donations from TaylorMade and Oh Yeah! Sports Nutrition.
Anna Zhou, Palo Alto, Calif., Class of 2015
Zhou grew up as a participant in The First Tee of Silicon Valley, so she was inspired to give back as a junior volunteer. She raised $2,000 and volunteered 160 hours in 2014 and has also spent time volunteering with Acterra, a nonprofit environmental organization. Additionally, she volunteers in the Stewards Program in the East Palo Alto Baylands, where she plants and waters native plants, installs bird boxes and checks the creek water quality.
About Leadership Links
Since 2009, the Leadership Links program has helped more than 1,000 junior golfers make a difference in their community by generating more than $1 million dollars in charitable contributions to hundreds of 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. For more information about Leadership Links, visit www.ajga.org/LL/Index.asp#Programs.
About the USGA
The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 national amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches. 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 working jurisdiction comprises the United States, its territories and Mexico.
The USGA is a global leader in the development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the game’s history and funds an ongoing “For the Good of the Game” charitable giving 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 www.usga.org.
About the AJGA
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 12-18) of more than 6,300 members from 48 states and more than 50 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.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex, which is in its fourth decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 600 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Stacy Lewis, Vicky Hurst, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome and Morgan Pressel.