The New England PGA professionals were impressed with Special Olympics Massachusetts Athlete, Tyler Lagasse as he drove a beautiful ceremonial tee shot right down the fairway to kick off the 3rd Annual New England PGA Birdies 2 Benefit Fundraiser. They were so impressed, they wanted to get him in on the action, asking him to play the final round in the afternoon.
Birdies 2 Benefit is a fundraiser that is held annually at Andover Country Club and brings together golf professionals from all over New England to play 54 holes throughout the day. Every time a birdie is made, a donation is made to the New England PGA Reach Foundation which then, benefits Special Olympics Massachusetts and Boston Children’s Hospital.
Tyler, who always impresses on and off the golf course, was asked to join two of the NE PGA interns for an afternoon on the course. Thethreesome played 18 holes and tallied 9 birdies to support the cause.
“It was obviously an exciting and fun time to get to playgolf with Jacob and Caitlin,” Tyler said. “They were awesome people to be with and it was such a joy to make as many birdies as possible and get to blow the air horn after each one.”
The airhorns are a fun twist on the day to make everyone aware when another birdie had been made. Having fun is what really matters most, according to Michael Packard, Director of PGA Reach New England.
“The smile that (the professionals) have when they see the athletes, when they see the patients from Boston Children’s, it’s not what they get a chance to do every day,” Packard says. “Ultimately putting the spotlights on the charities that we have that are benefitting and making sure everyone is having fun playing golf, at the end of the day that’s what matters most to us.”
A fun day was had by all, as 566 birdies were made over 54 holes of golf, which came to a total of $201,195 that will benefit Special Olympics Massachusetts and Boston Children’s Hospital.
Mike Higgins, Executive Director of PGA NE, says that it is important to share with their community what they do with the funds that are raised and that the organizations that they partner with and associate with is part of their own mission as well.
“If we can help improve lives for the game of golf and sport, absolutely.” Higgins said. “And Special Olympics having golf as one of the many sports the organization supports, it just made a lot of sense.”
Tyler is one of the many athletes whose life has been impacted greatly by being involved with Special Olympics.
“This event is important for athletes like me who depend on Special Olympics, whose mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for people living with intellectual disabilities,” Tylersaid.
The 3rd Annual Birdies 2 Benefit was a great success. Birdies were made, and money was raised, but the inclusive environment that was provided and the connections that were built is priceless. When fundraising with inclusion, everybody wins.