United by the singular goal of helping those in need, these 14 junior golfers used Leadership Links to support communities around the world last year.
It's well-documented how destructive COVID-19 was and continues to be, but it couldn't stop these young men and women from stepping up in 2020 and raising more than $137K combined for charity. From organizations that helped battle the crisis to charities that support youth athletics, these juniors helped change lives last year. In addition, 50% of each total listed below was donated to the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program.
1. Sammy and Matthew Lin of Orinda, California
The Lins raised $20,643.81 for All Stars Helping Kids, an organization dedicated to disrupting the cycle of poverty and encouraging innovation by seed funding start-up nonprofits in the Bay Area.
We've benefited from other people's generosity and want to pay it forward. Especially amidst this pandemic, we think it's so important to look for ways to strengthen and uplift the communities around us. There is so much 'need' in society and it's our responsibility to help.
With COVID-19 limiting in-person activities, the Lins raised their money through social media and email.
Joining Leadership Links is a learning journey. We'd highly encourage anyone who's interested to take that step. It's taught us about stepping out of our comfort zone and taking risks. Leadership Links is a fantastic opportunity to use your love for the game of golf to make a positive impact.
2. Charles Warren of Huntsville, Alabama
Warren participated in the Alabama Cup (a State Cup Series event where juniors raise money as their form of entry into a match-play tournament) and secured $20,400 to support MD Anderson AYA and the ACE Grant. This was more than just giving back for Warren, it was deeply personal.
Warren was diagnosed with cancer in January of 2020. His treatment took place over four months at the Adolescent and Youth Adults (AYA) Clinic at MD Anderson. Warren is now in full remission. His lifelong friend and Alabama Cup host Gordon Sargent chose the AYA Clinic at MD Anderson as the benefiting charity to honor Warren.
Golf has been so good to me and given me so many wonderful opportunities. Giving back is part of golf. Golf is unique in that it's also one of the leading tools for fundraising and charitable giving. I'm forever thankful for all that MD Anderson did for me, so it feels great to be able to give back to them.
Participating in the Alabama Cup was a special experience for a number of reasons, but Warren most appreciated using golf to unite for a common goal. He acknowledged that golf is an intense, individual sport, which is why it was so much fun to play in a relaxed setting where the goal was enjoying the round, not the competition.
Raising money has taught me so much about how the world works and how to properly communicate with others. I found that most everyone you approach is willing to support and help junior golfers.
3. Eli Schmidly of Charlotte, North Carolina
Schmidly raised a total of $19,545 on behalf of two charities in 2020. The high school sophomore used Leadership Links to raise money for the Oaks Christian School in Charlotte, North Carolina, while his participation in another State Cup Series event, the Carolina Cup, benefited the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation. The school was brought to Schmidly's attention by his mentor Webb Simpson. Simpson and his wife Dowd founded the school to nurture, develop and educate a child's mind, body, heart and soul as an image-bearer of God.
Eli has become a friend of my family. We're very appreciative of his contribution to the Oaks Christian School. Most importantly, it's very gratifying to watch Eli grow and realize the impact golf can have.
Schmidly is someone who feels compelled to support those around him in any way he can. Though his passion remains the game of golf, he recognizes that some of life's most meaningful moments come away from the course.
It’s cool to see your work pay off in another form that isn’t competition because that’s where this roots from. If I️ was playing golf competitively, I️ wouldn’t be able to get these things done.
That being said, Schmidly appreciated the opportunity to participate in the Carolina Cup and see the positive impact the game of golf can have.
It's special because of the fellowship, and the good things we are able to achieve. The Carolina Cup was special even when I️ didn’t play great golf. Knowing we were able to make a difference in other people's lives while using golf was an awesome feeling.
4. Gabriel Yang and Callie Yuan of Saratoga, California
Yang and Yuan partnered on behalf of the ACE Grant, raising a total of $15,301. The two passionately believe that anyone, regardless of financial ability, should have equal opportunity to compete at a higher level and receive a higher education.
There are definitely many reasons as to why I want to give back. However, I think one of the more important reasons would be that giving connects people. By helping others, we are creating stronger and better communities. One positive action will encourage other positive actions, creating a better society for all.
Yuan added that having the ability and privilege to support and help others makes her want to leverage that to her fullest potential. She's just happy to help others and impact their lives in a positive way.
Leadership Links has truly changed me as a person. Having the opportunity to help others is the second best thing that can ever happen. Being willing to step forward and act upon that is the best thing. No matter the amount of help, big or small, you should try to do your part. Find something that you’re passionate about and do your best to help others.
5. Mack and Turner Edwards of Charlotte, North Carolina
The brothers participated in the Carolina Cup, raising $13,450 on behalf of the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation. The brothers are passionate about supporting those who are less fortunate.
I want to give back because I've had countless laughs and learned an abundance of lessons through the game of golf. It has brought me endless joy as it is a game that never stops giving, and for that, I will be forever grateful. Thus, I want to do everything in my power to allow other children to compete and enjoy the game of golf as I do. Most importantly, I want to help those going through tough times regain their health to go out and live life to its fullest.
Mack and Turner look to improve upon the Carolina Cup's incredible legacy as they take over the event later this year.
Many things make a State Cup Series tournament so special, but there's definitely one that comes to mind. It's tough to put into words, but my heart fills with joy when I'm out playing a top-rated course with a handful of my best buddies, knowing every minute that goes by benefits a child just like me who was dealt a tougher hand. It's an extraordinary feeling that I'll remember for the rest of my life.
6. Zachary Munno of Stamford, Connecticut
Through the inaugural Metro Cup, Munno raised a total of $12,221 on behalf of the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich and the Metropolitan PGA Junior Foundation. Munno was inspired to found the Metro Cup after meeting with Regional Director Patrick Plank in 2019.
I think we are very fortunate to play a sport that has a long history of giving back to our local communities and I wanted to start an event that could challenge some of the best junior golfers in the NY area to channel their competitiveness into giving back to the community.
Founding the Metro Cup proved to be the ultimate escape in a year unlike any other.
Participating in Leadership Links and The Metro Cup was by far the most rewarding experience of my year in golf, and probably my career. It felt even more impactful during 2020, which was such a difficult year. Last year was full of ups and downs in golf, school and life, with constant disruptions; however, being part of Leadership Links enabled me to focus on something I could control and made me more motivated to do it well because I knew it could make a positive impact on our golf and local community.
7. Morgan Slaton II of Huntsville, Alabama
Due to the pandemic, Slaton used the power of email to generate $9,325 for Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation. He's always been inspired by the work Jack and Barbara Nicklaus do to support children in need, which is why this foundation was at the top of his list. Slaton doesn't need any recognition for his fundraising efforts, but he admitted that being a top-10 fundraiser in a year like 2020 meant a lot to him. Overall, he just hopes that his efforts can inspire other juniors to join Leadership Links.
If someone was interested, I would tell them to do it and take pride in doing it because even if you don’t qualify for some of the incentives, you'll still feel accomplished knowing the money you raised will be used for a great cause and will impact a lot of people.
8. Aksel and Jonas Moe of Richville, Minnesota
Last year was a challenging year for everyone due to COVID-19. For those most impacted, Direct Relief was there to equip doctors and nurses with life-saving medical resources to care for the world's most vulnerable people. Knowing every bit helps, the Moe brothers stepped up and raised $9,009 for Direct Relief (at the time of the video below, the brothers had raised roughly $6K).
The duo was inspired by AJGA players from China who used Leadership Links to raise money for Direct Relief early in the pandemic - before the virus spread widely in the states.
The Moe brothers started their fundraising campaign after the U.S. began experiencing widespread shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for front line medical personnel. The Moes currently live in Thailand, so all of their fundraising efforts were done entirely via email and social media.
While we were unable to go to school during the lockdown, practice or play golf, the fundraiser gave us a sense of purpose and the opportunity to do something positive for others when we felt helpless in many ways.
9. Hampton Beebe of West Palm Beach, Florida
Beebe earned his spot in the Florida Sunshine Cup, a State Cup Series event started in 2019, by raising $8,890 for the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation.
Playing in the Florida Sunshine Cup was such a fun experience. First off, it's great to know you're helping people, especially during such a difficult year. Participating in a team event with my friends to raise money for really great charities made it one of my favorite events of the year.
10. Luke Gossett of Sorrento, Florida
Another Florida Sunshine Cup participant, Gossett rounds out our list of the top-10 fundraising efforts from 2020 with the $8,825 he raised in support of the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation. Gossett is only just starting his junior golf career, but he already knows the positive impact the game can have on the community.
Leadership Links helps you become a good citizen, leader and team member. I just feel blessed to not only have a platform to make an impact on the community, but to have sponsors who are so generous.