Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hundred Hole Hike

I'm quite certain that most of my readers are familiar with the name Jim Colton. A husband and father of three in Wheaton, Illinois, Jim is the man behind Wegoblogger#31 and also is the man responsible for the YouTube sensation "I'm on a Doak".

Ok, now it's time to get serious!

In 2011, Jim decided to raise some money for Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club caddy Ben Cox, who was paralyzed after a skiing accident earlier in the year. He had modest goals at first, intending to walk 108 holes in hopes of raising maybe $5000 to $10000. However, the support he received was overwhelming - not only were supporters willing to pledge donations for the cause, many also donated rounds of golf at world-class clubs, giving Jim the ability to run a charity auction that would raise significantly more money.

In the end, Jim walked an incredible 155 holes and raised in excess of $110,000 for Ben Cox and his family.

Think about that for a minute...this is one man doing all of this work, with great support from his friends and family of course but the commitment Jim made is nothing short of incredible.

Most importantly, Ben continues to progress with his rehabilitation and has even returned to school to finish his degree!

Well, if you think Jim is resting on his laurels, you obviously haven't met the man!

What could he possibly do for an encore? Here is Jim in his own words, from his blog post at the Hundred Hole Hike website.

Last fall, I got a lot of questions from friends asking "What next?" or "Are you going to do it again next year?" My initial thought was to do pretty much the same thing but just push myself further, with the goal of walking 180 holes or more in one day. Eventually, this selfish ambition to "do more" birthed an idea to "help more." Instead of just one guy walking a ridiculous number of holes in one day for one cause, why not try to build a national (or international) network of golf marathons, with a bunch of golfers walking 100+ holes in a day to raise money for a variety of worthwhile causes. Bingo! That was idea that could take the Ben Cox 155 to the next level. Throw in a catchy alliteration, register a few domain names, develop a website to centralize all of the marketing and fundraising, and here we are! Golf's version of the Million Man March.

[I knew we were on to something when the first four people we contacted to be potential sponsors -- Rob Rigg from True Linkswear, John Ashworth of Linksoul, Lee Wybranski from Group W Artworks and Todd Rohrer from The Mackenzie Golf Bag Company -- not only immediately said they'd love to be included as partners, but also wanted to "hike" as well. I sincerely hope that others reading this and checking out the site will have the same kind of gut reaction.]

One of the key motivating factors last year was the deep connection I made with Ben and his family. Ben Cox is such an inspirational young man, to me and many others that he has touched over the last year. His and his family's unwavering faith through the skiing accident and recovery changed people's lives, including my own. It wasn't difficult to get motivated and push a little harder leading up to and during the marathon, knowing full well that each extra hole was going toward a deserving cause.

Along those same lines, hundredholehike.com is meant to be a platform for die-hard golfers to raise money for causes that they feel passionately about. Our current list of causes ranges from cancer research and helping addicts get back on their feet, to a number of charities designed to help kids. We've even set up a charitable organization called One Divot to organize and operate the Hundred Hole Hike, with a two-fold mission. One, to help individuals in the golf "family" such as Ben Cox get the assistance to help with injury, illness or unfortunate circumstance; and two, to develop and support "grow the game" initiatives, particularly among youths in traditionally underserved areas. Our hope is that each golfer is able to make the same connection with his/her cause, and is able to convey that connection with others through the blogging and social media aspects of the site so others can share in the journey.

Consistent with this "next level" thinking, I will be hiking this year on June 25th at Ballyneal to raise money for the Craig Hospital Foundation--specifically, to raise money for spinal-cord and brain injury research. Craig Hospital in Denver is exclusively dedicated to spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation and research, and is where Ben Cox spent many months after his skiing accident. My hope is that by walking 100 (or more...take the over) holes in one day, maybe Ben Cox or somebody with a similar injury can walk one or more with me someday. I hope that you'll join me in support of this or any of the other very worthwhile causes. Click Find a Golfer, read the hikers' blog posts either individually or collectively at what we're calling Base Camp, find out more about the causes and clubs involved and pledge your support. Or even step up and get involved by launching a Hike event at your home club for a charitable cause of your choosing. Feel free to e-mail me at jim@onedivot.org for more information.

There are already 47 people officially signed up to participate in the first ever Hundred Hole Hike and that number is growing by the day. Those 47 participants are supporting 34 different causes and 17 clubs are hosting hikes so far in 2012, with all of those numbers sure to increase before the summer begins.

If you can't participate yourself, please consider donating to one or more of the hikers and know that you can be creative with your pledge. You can just offer a lump sum or perhaps offer a pledge per hole played. Also, you can get even more inspired, perhaps offering bonus pledges for birdies, eagles, aces or even fairways hit. The Hundred Hole Hike website has added a comment field to the pledge area so you can get as creative as you want. I've also added the HHH website to the links in the sidebar for easy access.

I won't have the opportunity to walk in 2012 but I will be offering financial support to a number of hikers, many of whom I've met and played golf with. With so many causes to support, I'm sure there is one close to your heart as well.

Please give where you can!


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