When learning of his mother’s diagnosis of colon cancer in the winter of 2007, Zach Herr didn’t know what to expect. Wanting to understand what his mother was experiencing, Zach, 14, began attending her radiation and chemotherapy sessions at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
“Seeing the look on the faces of all the patients sitting there begging to be anywhere else, doing anything else, it made me want to give back,” Herr said. “The dedication of the care team to these people was amazing and I wanted to thank them for all they did.”
As an avid golfer, Zach began to form ideas for fundraising and decided upon a charity golf outing benefiting Fox Chase. The Zach Attacks Cancer Foundation was born. Putting the wheels in motion, 13-year-old Zach secured Jericho National Golf Club, his home course, using $3,000 of his own lawn-mowing money as a down payment. It was a small price, considering how much money he was about to raise.
For his selfless work and dedication to the Zach Attacks Cancer Foundation, Zach Herr is being honored with the 2009 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. Herr, who lives in New Hope, Pa., joins fellow golfer Emily Gimpel of Lafayette Hill, Pa., as recipients for their selfless efforts in their communities.
Herr and Gimpel 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.
With a major charity tournament to plan, Zach sent out more than 300 letters all around the country asking for donations for the silent auction to be held the day of the tournament. More than 40 items were secured and the event itself started to take shape. Zach and his support team sold hole sponsorships on the course for $500 apiece to raise $10,000. With more than 100 local golfers paying $400 each, Zach achieved his fundraising goal, netting $60,000 after paying course fees and food and beverage bills.
“My expectations were pretty low. I didn’t think people would react the way they did,” Zach said. “I was most surprised by the number of people who wanted to help, people I didn’t even know were supportive. I guess when it’s for a good cause, people care.”
In his award application, Zach wrote, “golf is a game that encompasses a strong work ethic, patience, integrity, sportsmanship and companionship.” It is these characteristics Zach utilized in forming the Zach Attacks Cancer Foundation. During times of struggle and potential defeat, he had to remember his Foundation’s mission – to help the hospital that saved his mother’s life.
“When I sent my first letter out, I didn’t get much response and I felt like I had hit a brick wall,” Zach said. “I had people telling me I was too young, but thinking of my mom and the other patients kept me going.”
The lives touched by Zach and his efforts are numberless but the impression Zach has left on his family, friends, community and those at Fox Chase are more than most thought one young man could accomplish. What Zach has been able to accomplish is nothing short of amazing and is a great example for the next generation of golf.
For more information about the USGA-AJGA Presidents' Youth Leadership Award, please call AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.