MIDDLEFIELD, Conn. – Don Valentas knows there’s no time like the present. Quick on the draw, in the summer of 2010, Valentas and his friends organized a benefit golf tournament to honor Ross Helm, a Cromwell buddy battling the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately, Helm lost his battle with MS just two months after the tournament. He lived long enough, however, to experience the true meaning of friendship.
“He was very sick at the time of the event, but his immediate family was able to come out and they were very touched,” Valentas shared. “When the family thanked us at the event, it showed how much it meant to them and, in turn, how much it meant to us.”
The gang of friends named themselves the Eleven Group and decided to press on, despite Helm’s passing, recognizing the impact their fundraising could have on those living with MS.
“As soon as we held the tournament, we knew that we were going to make this an annual event,” explained Valentas. “It’s a way to keep Ross’s memory and spirit alive through our efforts to fundraise for the National MS Society. Each one of us wants to find a cure and this tournament is our way of moving closer to a world free of MS.”
The fifth annual Eleven Group Charity Golf Tournament will be held Saturday, Aug. 16, at Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield. The tournament features a shotgun start, a full round of golf with several putting and driving contests, and an awards dinner featuring a full buffet, open bar and prizes.
Valentas admitted that when he initially thought of the golf tournament, he was unsure if the tournament would be successful or make a lasting impact.
“We reached out to friends and family, used social media sites such as Facebook and did everything we could to spread the word,” he said. “To come out the morning of the event and see that we had a full field of golfers, it really meant a lot to us. It was very inspiring and we have certainly raised more than we expected.”
In the event’s four years, the Eleven Group has raised more than $20,000 for the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter.
Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. Golfers will be able to utilize the driving range, enjoy breakfast and participate in a putting contest before the 9 a.m. shotgun start. The event will conclude with an awards dinner at 2 p.m., which includes an open bar.
The registration fee is $130 per person or $520 per foursome. There will be a silent auction provided by Mike Riccio Sports, as well as hole-in-one prizes, including a vacation to Hawaii for two, a PGA Village golf package for two, a Pine Needles Golf School package for two and a Newport Dunes golf package for two.
Tickets to attend the awards ceremony dinner are available for $50. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.
The Eleven Group Charity Golf Tournament is an example of Do It Yourself fundraising. Funds raised through Do It Yourself fundraising events ensure ongoing scientific research to find a cure and provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter.
For more information on the tournament or to register for the event, visit the tournament website, www.golfinvite.com/elevengroup.
To learn more about Do It Yourself Fundraising, multiple sclerosis, its effects and the many ways to become involved, please visit the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter’s website at www.ctfightsMS.org.