After founding Fairways with Jeremy back in April 2016, very quickly we had our first juniors that needed support. The Shaw boys. At that stage we had everything registered but hadn't started doing any fundraising.
I spoke with Connor Lea at Avondale Golf Course, where the boys had been playing for the last couple of years, and asked if the children could keep playing if I promised to raise the money by the end of the summer.
He readily agreed and I set about organizing our first fundraiser.
In May 2016, I spoke to Belfast Highland Greens' PGA pro Keir White about hosting an all-day fundraiser at the course. I thought it would be fun to play as many holes as possible during a single day.
In that first year, Keir, myself and club member Ron Kennedy were the brave souls to attempt the challenge. I liked the word, "challenge," so incorporated it into the name of the event. Jeremy considers himself something of a marketing wiz and after we put our heads together, via the business chat app, Slack (Jeremy was in Australia and I in Canada), we came up with the Fairways DAWN2DUSK Golf Challenge. Jeremy thought #DAWN2DUSK was a good hashtag for social media... along with #giftofgolf.
It was one month until the event and I had to get enough sponsorship to ensure I could pay for the Shaws and any other cadets we recruited before the end of that summer (we got seven). My friends, relatives and even some of my customers at my waitressing job, came through with the sponsorship and we raised over $1,000!
My companions and I decided to play on the summer solstice to ensure the longest amount of daylight possible. We played 83 holes of golf that year and ensured the Fairways cadets could play throughout the summer and also during winter at an indoor simulator, All About Golf.
In 2017, we returned to Belfast Highland Greens for DAWN2DUSK - SEASON 2. By that time we were also supporting children in Nepal, Bolivia and India. Keir wasn't able to play, but popped his head in for a hello.
We did have a local radio station, HOT 105.5, turn up to talk about how Fairways was helping underprivileged junior golfers in Canada and all over the world.
I also wasn't alone in 2017. Others jumped on the DAWN2DUSK bandwagon, to host fundraisers for Fairways and take the summer solstice challenge. Better yet, one of Fairways' best friends, Gordon Moir, the Director of Greenkeeping at St. Andrews (yes, that St. Andrews), had donated an amazing prize. It was a pin flag from the 2016 Open Championship at St. Andrews, signed by former champions, Tom Watson, Mark O'Meara, John Daly, Sandy Lyle and Tom Lehman.
Jeremy and I decided to award it to whoever raised the most money for Fairways. We had two significant contributors.
- Paddy Dean, at Malone Golf Club in Belfast, carried his own bag for 100 holes and raised $1,000 from a number of sponsors
- Settlers' Ghost Golf Club, while not undertaking a golf marathon like Paddy, organized a fundraising event and raised over $1,200
Although it was very close, the signed Open Championship flag now resides proudly on the wall at Settlers' Ghost.
It's 2018 now, so it's time for DAWN2DUSK - SEASON 3 and it's going to be bigger than ever!
I'm changing venues this time and will be playing at Avondale, where all seven of our PEI cadets have their lessons.
My partner, David and I, are playing, along with four of the Canadian juniors, Evan, John, Tara and Kate. Tara and Kate are playing to raise money to pay for their tournament fees on the junior provincial tour.
The prize for raising the most money this year will be a choice of one of our Awesome 4somes tee times (over 50 courses in 6 countries).
Dave and I have a bet about who can raise the most money, and as he works with a lot of people he has an advantage on me. I work from a home office and rang him, one day, excited to tell him I had my first sponsor.
His response? “Oh I’ve raised $500.”
Dave has already raised over $2,000 and I have nearly cracked $500. Our cadets in Bolivia are also going to be part of DAWN2DUSK and are planning an event to raise money so they can continue playing the game they love.
Do you want to take the DAWN2DUSK Golf Challenge and see how many holes you can play from sunrise to sunset?
If so start a sponsorship page here, share it with your friends and join us on Twitter as we play golf from dawn to dusk all around the world! It doesn't have to be on the solstice either. Jeremy's playing in the middle of the Australian winter, so will only have 10 hours of sunlight (Ed. Thanks, Tiff!)
If you can't play or follow the Twitter threads, please click here to donate so we can help these kids keep a fairway under their feet.