A Winning Fundraiser

by Rebecca Howerton

 Jul 04, 2019 at 8:41 AM

Providence members team with club to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand

When Trina Blankenship agreed last year to organize the annual ladies tennis charity event at Providence Country Club, she didn’t know how much work it would be, but she knew which nonprofit she would choose as beneficiary – Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

Her husband, Charles, is vice president of human resources for Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, which has an ongoing partnership with the charity. When the couple attended the organization’s 2018 Lemon Ball in Philadelphia, Blankenship became aware of the full scope of its efforts to change the lives of children with cancer.

“I was blown away. Alex was a little girl who had cancer and started a lemonade stand to raise money to help other children with cancer. Her family started the foundation in her honor, and they’ve done an amazing job,” Blankenship said. “We heard from doctors who benefited from their funding for cutting-edge research, and families they helped with travel costs and medical expenses to get their child the treatment they needed. It was pretty incredible.”

Blankenship knew she would need help to make the most of the member-guest tennis event, so she called her friend Sharon Dolan to ask if she would co-chair.

"Sharon promptly told me no,” Blankenship said. “But within an hour she had read about Alex’s Lemonade Stand online and she called back and said, ‘I’ll do that.’

The pair worked diligently canvassing for sponsorships and donations for silent and live auctions. From tournament entry fees to Jell-O® shots, it all added up: In just four hours last August, 64 women played a round-robin tournament and raised over $17,000 to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

“We tried to think of ways to raise money that would go straight to the charity. Toward the end, we asked for donations and gave examples of what different amounts could do to help with childhood cancer,” Blankenship said. “When the totals came in, we were stunned.”

The event was so successful, it was recognized as the United States Tennis Association North Carolina’s 2018 Charity Tennis Event of the Year at its 2019 Awards Ceremony in Pinehurst, N.C.

“We had no idea; it was a total surprise, ”Blankenship said of the award. “It was a lot of work, but it was extremely satisfying. We’ve passed the baton; the organizers for this year’s tournament will support Make-a-Wish Foundation.

William Noblitt, director of tennis at Providence Country Club, said Blankenship and Dolan did an amazing job organizing the tournament and coordinating the efforts of members and club staff who volunteered their time.

News of the event was so inspiring that this year, sister property The Country Club of Asheville hosted a fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand June 1–2.

“As part of McConnell Golf we are always looking for ways to support different charities and give back to our community in meaningful ways,” Noblitt said.

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Honoring Memories

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Aug 24, 2017 at 7:00 PM

For 21 years — and counting — Charlotte’s Providence Country Club has joined forces with Hospice of Union County.

When Providence hosted Hospice of Union County’s Griffin Motor Company Golf Tournament in May, old friends gathered, memories were shared, and record funds were raised. The event contributed $167,000 to Hospice of Union County, the largest amount ever raised for the organization.

Inspired by his personal experience with hospice care, Providence member Rob Kreisher started the event in 1996. From year one, the tournament has been held at Providence and has raised $1.8 million for the organization overall.

“Hospice took care of some of my family members, and I was so impressed with what they did,” he says. “They not only helped patients who were dying, but they taught the family about the process.”

One of the reasons this tournament is successful is because members are committed to playing it.

“We sell out every year,” says Kreisher. “People fly in from all over the country and most everyone comes back year after year. This is a charity that the players want to support. Before we present the check to Hospice of Union County, everyone’s always asking me, ‘What’s the check going to be?’ They under- stand the impact of what they’ve done.”

This year’s event began with a barbecue lunch overlooking the 18th hole, where family and friends purchased in-memory signs to honor loved ones.

“It’s a nice way to pay respect,” says Susanna Trotter, corporate communications associate for Carolinas HealthCare System.

Before the first tee-off, a bagpiper played two verses of “Amazing Grace,” followed by a balloon release on the back of the 18th green.

After the round, a dinner reception and silent auction capped the day. Items for bid included a football signed by Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly as well as Lilly Pulitzer and Tory Burch items.

But the tournament is more than just a round of golf and an evening with friends.

“Every year, families tell us how much they enjoy the day, and they’re so glad to be a part of it,” says Trotter. “Tears are shed as everyone reminisces. They appreciate all that is done to raise funds because hospice helped their loved ones at the end of their lives. They appreciate that this keeps happening, and they’re given the chance to honor those special memories.”

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