On Monday April 16, Red Cross Los Angeles celebrated five years of celebrity golf by hosting our Fifth Annual Celebrity Golf Classic at the Lakeside Country Club in Toluca Lake. 120 golfers, two dozen celebrities, a moving speech from Jess Wishan, the leader of Red Cross’ response to Ventura and Santa Barbara wildfires and mudslides, and NFL Network host Rich Eisen’s witty repartee all made for a special day.
The day began early, as always, with tee times starting at 11am and continued into the evening with a delicious dinner and entertaining awards presentation to the foursomes with the lowest scores. But here’s the best part: the event raised almost $300,000 to support Red Cross disaster relief efforts.
One of the things that makes this event so special are the actors, sports figures and other celebrities who join the paying foursomes for the event. This year’s list of celebrity golf participants was impressive as always. My thanks go out to Dave Annable, Reggie Bush, Bailey Chase, Michael Chiklis, Brandon Convery, Rich Eisen, Patrick Fabian, Mardy Fish, Derek Fisher, Kurt Fuller, Mark Paul Gosselaar, Kelsey Grammer, Joel Gretsch, Robert Herjavec, Kenny Johnson, Richard Karn, Robby Krieger, Sugar Ray Leonard, Joe Mantegna, Cade McNown, Breckin Meyer, Jeff Nordling, Joe Pesci, James Remar, Pete Sampras, Byron Scott, Nick Swisher and Andia Winslow.
All of the funds raised support disaster responses like the recent, tragic fires in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Those fires caused the evacuation of more than 230,000 people, and more than 1,000 structures being destroyed. Red Cross provided more than 5,800 shelter stays and served around 50,000 meals. As many will recall, these fires were followed a few weeks later by horrific mudslides in and around Montecito that ended with the death of more than 20 residents. Jess Wishan gave a gripping account of how first responders led search and rescue efforts, and how Red Cross supported them by providing shelter, care and support to the evacuated. Proceeds from the tournament will go to support these and other victims of disaster.
Also highlighted at the dinner were the 300 Los Angeles volunteers who deployed to recent disasters – an LA record—to support disaster victims. Included among those who deployed, Kathleen Paul, the co-chair of the tournament, who went to serve meals in south Florida to victims of Hurricane Irma. Many thanks to Kathleen and her event co-chair, Dr. Peter Waldstein, for the long hours they put in to lead our committee. Of course, we must also mention Laurence E. Paul, M.D., whom we honored as Humanitarian of the Year during last month’s Humanitarian Celebration. Larry was one of the founders of the Celebrity Golf Classic, over five years ago. Additional thanks to LA Region board members Tomoko Nagashima, Scott Olmsted and Jeff Sakaguchi and his wife Nini Sakaguchi who ran the Opportunity Drawing; to Santa Monica Bay Chapter Board member Bob Ackerman; and to Mike Giordano, husband of LA Region Board member Liz Giordano, who all joined the host committee, donated, and worked behind the scenes to help make this year’s Celebrity Golf Classic a fun and heartfelt day, both on and off the course.