Annual golf tournament to benefit programs for people with disabilities | CraigDailyPress.com

Annual golf tournament to benefit programs for people with disabilities

John Vandelinder

This pink grill, constructed to resemble a pig, will be awarded to the white ball winner during the annual golf ball drop at the Yahoo Golf Tournament at Yampa Valley Golf Course.

Hitting a green with a golf ball is difficult enough.

Attempting to accomplish the feat from an airplane traveling at 90 mph with thousands of golf balls, seems impossible.

But, it’s the signature event for this year’s Yahoo Golf Tournament, scheduled for Sept. 13 at Yampa Valley Golf Course. Each year, a different organization is chosen to receive money generated by the ball drop.

Horizons Specialized Services, a nonprofit organization, was chosen as this year’s recipient for the second time in three years.

“It’s great for us that the Yahoo tournament selected us again,” said Kay Borvansky, a resource development coordinator for Horizons. “The money raised here in Moffat County will go toward our adult programs and services.”

Horizons was formed in the 1975 as a way to get people with disabilities out of institutions and into more “home-like” environments, Borvansky said. The money is especially important for the more-than-50 Horizons clients in Moffat County.

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“We get state and federal money, but the cost of providing services has risen, and the increase in funding is not keeping up,” Borvansky said.

Horizons provides services for clients who can live independently and also runs group homes for those needing care around the clock.

In Craig, the organization has three group homes, The Rainbow House, Park Place and Victory Way, as well as two host homes.

Some independent housing units are also available for clients, who can get help with budgeting, finding jobs and locating social activities.

The golf tournament and ball-drop fundraiser will be great boosts for the organization, Borvansky said.

The Yahoo Golf Tournament began in 2001 as a tribute to Craig resident Ralph Knez. His brother, Tom, organized the tournament after Ralph was killed in a tractor accident.

A couple of years later, Dan Severson joined the tournament to honor his father, Jim. Ralph and Jim loved to play golf, family members said.

Today, the tournament honors “a whole bunch of people whose names are on the trophy,” Severson said.

“We teamed up to try to make money for the local nonprofits,” he said.

The first year of the ball drop, organizers purchased a set of Ping golf clubs and presented them to a member of the high school golf team. In 2004, the event raised $4,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Craig. 2005 saw $9,000 raised for the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition, in 2006, Horizons was the beneficiary of a $27,000 check; and last year, the event donated $17,000 to the junior golf program at Yampa Valley Golf Course.

Severson expects even more money to be raised this year.

“Last year, we dropped 2,400 golf balls,” he said. “This year, I think it will be more like 2,500 or 3,000.”

White balls cost $10 each. The white ball closest to the hole wins a grand prize – a grill constructed to resemble a pink pig.

For $100, participants can get 12 white balls and one bonus red ball.

First prize for the closest red ball is airfare and a week’s stay in Palm Springs, Calif.

People may sign up for the tournament and buy golf balls for the drop at local businesses. Severson said 60 two-player men’s teams and 30 women’s teams have already signed up for the tournament.

He estimates that the event should more than match the $27,000 raised for Horizons two years ago.

That’s great news for Borvansky, who said helping Horizons clients is the best feeling she can get.

“It’s really uplifting for me to go into a home that’s a large facility with a great staff serving delicious and nutritious meals,” she said. “It’s a caring, loving environment.”

John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793 or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com