On September 9, Bel Meadow Country Club hosted the 19th Annual Kelly Miller Foundation Golf Tournament, started by Frank Starks in 1996. The proceeds from this event are just one of the many fundraisers which support the mission of the Kelly Miller Foundation: “To create lasting change for those in Harrison & surrounding counties, through strategic, post-secondary, education and training endeavors.”
This annual golf tournament plays a significant role in the organization’s success. On a hot and humid day, 80 golfers descended on a sun-baked golf course, which challenged even the most skillful golfers. Due to the lack of rain, the fairways were like interstate highways, the traps rock-hard, and the greens challenging to say the least.
However, in spite of the weather, the staff at Bel Meadow did everything possible to make sure everyone enjoyed the day. The driver of the beverage cart had her hands full making sure everyone stayed hydrated. Rangers were present to keep golfers going in the right direction and overseeing play. Nevertheless, no one seemed to mind the heat and humidity. They were all there supporting a good cause – providing educational opportunities for our youth.
One of the more outstanding factors of the tournament was its wide geographic support. This writer was teamed with a couple from Michigan and a golfer who lived close to the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Pictured (L-R): Steve Jones (Close to Maryland’s Eastern Shore); Connie Gentry and Cleo Gentry (Michigan) and Mike Lambiotte (Clarksburg, WV)
One family in particular, the Donaldson’s, were well represented: Terri and Sonny Donaldson from Clarksburg, West Virginia; Elaine and Roderick Donaldson from Michigan; Yvonne and Anthony Donaldson and their daughters Ariana and Maya from Sacramento, California. Safe to say, no other local golf tournament receives such support.
Pictured (L-R): Local golfers Bobby Gaston and Barbara Wildman, both from Sunny Croft Country Club in Clarksburg, teamed with Elaine and Roderick Donaldson from Detroit.
Roderick is the cousin of Sonny Donaldson, who along with his wife Terri are very involved in the Kelly Miller Foundation.
Additional Donaldson family members came from Sacramento, California: Yvonne and Anthony Donaldson, along with their twin daughter’s Ariana and Maya. Ariana and Maya, along with their father Anthony, call Empire Ranch Golf Course their home course. Anthony is the son of Terri and Sonny Donaldson. Yvonne is not a golfer but plays a very important role: Snack provider, hydration supplier, moral supporter, and golf cart driver when required.
Pictured l-r: Yvonne, Anthony, Ariana, Maya, Terri, and Sonny Donaldson
Ariana and Maya are both learning the game under the watchful eye of Will Robbins Golf in Sacramento. And, it is obvious the girls are learning the game the right way. Maya won “Closest to the Pin” for the women when she placed her tee shot within 8 feet of the pin on the 178-yard Par 3. Maya also won “The Longest Drive” for the women with a drive estimate at 200 yards. Side Bar: The girls are 13 years old. A representative from Dixon Golf said, “They have the smoothest pure swing I have ever seen.”
At the conclusion of the tournament, in the second floor banquet room, golfers were served a garden salad, grilled chicken, fried potatoes, green beans, and dessert. Following the meal, a variety of items were given as door prizes and several items were auctioned, with proceeds going to the Foundation.
Organizers of the tournament said this year’s turnout was the largest in the 19-year history of the event. As one golfer said, “I don’t care how far I have to travel. I’ll keep coming back every year, God willing. It is all about helping our kids.” And, that is what the Kelly Miller Foundation is all about – helping kids become successful in post-secondary level work, either collegiate or vocational.
Most charity golf tournaments in North Central West Virginia receive strong local support, but it is safe to say that The Kelly Miller Golf Tournament is unique in that it has nationwide support. Support that stretches from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Great Lakes, and California. And there is one certainty: The Donaldson family will be well represented for years to come.
If you would like more information on the Foundation or their golf tournament, go to www.kellymillerfoundation.org.