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Lighthouse hits hole-in-one

Posted: Friday, Sep 23rd, 2016

Jeremy Clay combines sports and community support

ATASCADERO — Three years ago, Chalk Mountain Golf Course superintendent Jeremy Clay wanted to do something to help the devastating drug problem affecting local kids and young adults in the North County, and that desire produced the annual Lighthouse Benefit Golf Tournament on the first Saturday of October.

Organizations had already sprung up around tragic losses, including the Kayla Peach Memorial Foundation and the Lighthouse committee of Atascadero Greyhound Foundation, and Clay wanted to do something to help.

Clay reached out to Lori Bagby, chairperson of the Lighthouse committee, which was already hosting a 10K run to raise money and awareness for the Del Rio Continuation High School, and offered to host a golf tournament.

“Jeremy Clay is the one who started this for us,” Bagby said. “He wanted to do something for us and wanted to do something positive and make a difference.”

On Saturday, Oct. 1, the third annual tournament will help raise money for Lighthouse-funded programs such as student counseling and a brand new student mentoring program, and the Lighthouse will provide some extra bells and whistles for the players this year.

“We formed a committee to help him this year, and do some fun things around the course,” Bagby said, “like a corn hole game at one of the holes.”

Each year, Clay has invented new ways to have fun in the tournament, and this year is no exception.

“If you are in the golf tournament, there will be some other ways to have fun and win prizes,” Clay said. “One will be the funny long drive. I have a 42-inch driver on the second hole and the golfers can use it and the longest drive with that club will win a prize.”

Clay’s grandpa Jerry Clay volunteers as the AGF liaison for the golf tournament, and spoke to the need for attention for Lighthouse on Dave Congalton’s radio program on occasion.

“We are trying to create awareness,” Jerry Clay said. “The more people know about the problem, the less likely they are to get involved in it. Five years ago, according to [APD Commander] Joe Allen, we had 32 overdoses in little over a year, and in 2015 there were only two that he could recall.”

The success of programs like Lighthouse and the efforts of the Kayla Peach Memorial Foundation are difficult to quantify, because prevention of overdose is not highly publicized or measurable. Those who contribute or volunteer for the programs associated with prevention of drug use, or assistance for the intervention or recovery from addiction, usually do so from the impact of a personal experience that touched their lives, but Lighthouse offers everyone, even the casual golfer, a way to get involved in supporting the effort.

“[The golf tournament] is a good way to get the word out about Lighthouse,” Bagby said.

Openings are still available for golf tournament, according to Clay, but with 50 golfers signed up already, he expects the event will sell out and urged any interested golfers to call him or sign up at lighthouseatascadero.org/golf-tourney-signup.html

Hole sponsorship starts at $50 each and any size donation benefits Lighthouse and is tax-deductible.

The funds raised will also support a new mentoring program in Atascadero Unified School District.

“Lighthouse supports a number of in school programs with the funding it generates and then donates to Atascadero Unified School District,” Del Rio principal Chris Balogh said. “For the 2016-17 school year, Lighthouse has committed over $50,000 to students at Del Rio Continuation High School and West Mall Alternative. The majority of these funds are combined with AUSD funds to contract the services of a licensed therapist from County Drug and Alcohol Services.”

As a result of the successful partnership between Lighthouse and Candle, Inc., which created the Reality Tour, a new mentorship program was adopted by AUSD.

“Lighthouse’s newest project this year will be to raise the funds to help AUSD establish a mentoring program between high school students and middle school students,” Balogh said. “The goal of the in-school mentoring program, like that of the community mentoring, is to empower students to maintain a drug-free lifestyle.”

In its third year, the Lighthouse tournament is becoming a beacon for the relationship between sports and healthy lifestyles that can make a quiet difference in the community.

The entry fee is $50, and lunch is included with the tournament, and more information can be found at lighthouseatascadero.org, or by calling Clay at 423-3524.

For the complete article see the 09-23-2016 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 09-23-2016 paper.

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