NEWBERRY — What began as helping hand for one of their fellow firefighters has become the annual event of the Newberry Fire Department golf tournament.
The fundraiser began seven years ago for a Keely Wicker. Her father, Brandon, works for the Newberry Fire Department.
Before her first birthday, Keely was diagnosed with a chromosome abnormality, Brandon said. The abnormality makes Keely developmentally delayed.
Now 6-years-old, Brandon said his daughter is crawling, but does not communicate the way a 6-year-old usually would.
“She communicates with us,” Brandon said of himself and wife. “We can understand her, but she doesn’t use words.”
Ben Bowers with the fire department said the fundraiser originally began as a way to help the Wicker family out with Keely’s medical expenses.
Two days after his daughter’s first birthday, Brandon himself received a diagnosis of leukemia. The second year of the Newberry Fire Department’s golf tournament was to benefit Brandon with his expenses.
About two to three months after his diagnosis, Brandon received word that he was in remission. He said it felt great that the fire department was able to band together to help his family out during those difficult times.
“We’re one big family,” Brandon said. “In good times, and in bad times.”
Bowers said the third year of the tournament, the department saw how well the fundraiser had done in the past, and decided to continue the tradition.
The seventh annual Newberry Fire Department Golf Tournament will take place April 26 at the Country Club of Newberry, 414 Country Club Road.
The tournament, Bowers said, is a shotgun start at 9 a.m. with registration starting at 8 a.m. If a team pre-registers and pays by April 25, the cost is $200 for a four-person team. The price increases to $240 per team the day of the tournament.
“We request that only teams register early,” Bowers said. “If an individual or incomplete team comes the day of, we will do our best to accommodate them.”
Bowers said the tournament is limited to 25 teams, so early registration is encouraged, and the only way to receive the discount. The cost of the tournament includes green fees, carts, one shot per player from a red tee box, and lunch.
There are also several sponsorship levels including bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. Sponsorships are requested to be in by April 14 to guarantee a sign can be made. More information about sponsorship levels and prices can be gathered by contacting the Newberry Fire Department at 321-1030.
The benefactors of the fundraiser are Newberry Fire Department’s Kid’s Fun Day as well as the MUSC Burned Children’s Fund. Bowers said the fire department keeps the portion of the funds they need for the fun day and the rest is donated to MUSC.
Last year, Bowers estimated they donated about $3,500 to MUSC.
The Kid’s Fun Day, known for years as the Kid’s Fishing Rodeo, gives children in the community a chance to enjoy time with firefighters, law enforcement, and other emergency workers. While there, they can play games and learn about fire safety, as well as other safety tips from law enforcement and safety officials.
“We typically have 300 or more parents and kids that come out for that,” Bowers said.
The event typically takes place at the beginning of September in the parking lot of Lowe’s in Newberry. When the county had several years without rain, the typical kids fishing rodeo was changed into more of a fun day atmosphere.
“The MUSC burned children’s fund is important to us because they treat burn victims under 18 and do camps for them to help give them a more normal life,” Bowers said.
Bowers said the children’s fund is near and dear to their hearts as firefighters simply because if a child in Newberry County is burned in a house fire, there’s a good chance they could benefit from the donations.
“Because a lot of stuff we do is for kids, we wanted to keep with that same theme of helping children,” Bowers said.
For more information on how you can get involved and register for the tournament, call the Newberry Fire Department at 321-1030 or email Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration forms can also be sent in to 1041 Wilson Road, Newberry.