WCF made the cover of the April edition of the World of Westchase magazine. Thank you to Chris and Tracy at the WOW for their continued support of our cause over all these years. The WOW has been the prime sponsor of the annual Santa Parade. Please see attached for the entire article:
The Westchase Cup: Golf and Fun for a Great Cause
The families’ stories, spelled out on their emotional applications for assistance, could melt even the hardest of hearts.
“Recently our daughter was diagnosed with a medullablastoma brain tumor,” reads one. The family has faced two surgeries, six weeks of radiation and 45 weeks of chemotherapy. “We do not have medical insurance and are trying to raise money to cover these costly treatments. We also have a 3-year-old son and are in need of money to take care of him and stay current on our bills.”
A father of a family of six is fighting cancer. Also lacking medical coverage, the family requests financial assistance to pay for gasoline and childcare so the father can receive the treatment he needs.
“I am going through a second series of chemo for aggressive breast cancer,” a mom writes. “I am richly blessed by love and support of my family but despite our efforts, I am unable to make ends meet. I feel like I am on a boat and my family is drowning.”
Another individual filled out an application for a friend. “Our neighbor has tragically lost two children and her husband in the past year. She has been left to support her surviving children as a single mom.”
The heartbreaking stories continue.
“Our 7-year-old son has been diagnosed with a learning disability called Central Auditory Processing Disorder. There is an FM transmitter device and Aural Rehab program that would help him succeed in school but, unfortunately, we do not have the money to afford it.”
“Please help me find a way to keep my children from another emotional hardship,” writes another mom, who details the emotional abuse and difficult divorce her children been through. Having lost alimony payments when her ex-husband lost his job, she continues, “I am working but it covers groceries and utility bills. I hear my children pray at night to keep us in the home we love so much.”
A single father with a daughter needs hearing aids that are not covered by insurance.
A boy, who passed out from medications and broke his jaw, needs more than $2,000 for jaw surgery and dental work.
All these individuals have been given hope and help by the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF).
It all began in 2003 when a group of Fords residents came together to assist the Overstreets, a Westchase couple whose daughter Brooke, 8, was battling brain cancer. “I knew her from school and church,” explained WCF founder Ralph Caputo. “Everyone just wanted to do everything they could to help.”
But step back a moment, to the real beginning.
Caputo recalls the foundation began over beers in an Abbotsford driveway, where he was sitting with his neighbor Dan O’Brien in the fall of 2002. O’Brien, who originally lived in Kingsford and had a circle of friends there, had moved to Abbotsford. The two thought it would be a great idea to have a competitive golf game, pitting Abbotsford’s golfers against those in Kingsford.
No money was raised. It was simply ten to twelve men in a friendly, competitive golf match.
The following spring, news of Brooke Overstreet’s condition – and the financial strain treatments were placing on her family – got the two thinking. As other neighbors were assisting the family financially, the two thought: why not get the same guys together to play golf again? Instead of charging $35 for the round, they’d charge $50 and give the $200 they raised to the Overstreets.
“We didn’t think the first tournament would be as big as it was,” recalled Caputo.
Word, however, had gotten out. Hearing of the fund-raising effort, other Westchase residents asked if they could join the game. Quite a few other players joined. After the match, the group held an impromptu block party where the winners got to brag. A few residents even pulled old sports memorabilia out of their home and an informal street auction was held. “At the end of the day, we raised a thousand bucks,” said Caputo.
Many of the Westchasers who participated pointed out that if the group were organized as a charitable foundation, the companies they worked for would likely have also made significant donations to the cause.
Within months, in anticipation of the next Westchase Cup, the small group of men from The Fords, established a 5019(c)3. “The golf tournament started the foundation,” Ralph Caputo recalled.
While Brooke Overstreet lost her battle with cancer, her legacy – in the Westchase Charitable Foundation – lives on.
While its original name was the Westchase Charitable Association, confusion with the unrelated Westchase Community Association (Westchase’s homeowners association), eventually led them to adopt the current name, Westchase Charitable Foundation.
Not only did the WCF offer charitable assistance to those in need, its events quickly became some of the most popular, community-building traditions in Westchase. Two years after establishing the Westchase Cup, O’Brien kicked off Santa’s Pre-Flight Parade, a tradition that celebrated its seventh year this past December.
In November the WCF marked the second Tampa Bay Woman of the Year event, a fundraising competition aimed at involving local women in the WCF’s good works. Its organizer is Greens resident Trey Corish.
And that successful Casino Night held each year by the Westchase PTA? It began as an event benefitting the WCF, which handed it over to the PTA.
Eight years after its formal establishment, the WCF still relies on fund-raising to support families in the Tampa community. The foundation does not receive any state or federal funding. It pays no salaries; all board members simply serve as dedicated, unpaid volunteers. Since its birth as a simple golf challenge among Fords friends, the WCF has raised and donated more than $150,000 to Tampa Bay families. While its mission initially focused on Westchase families with very sick children, the foundation, convinced it could help even more families, broadened its mission to extend outside Westchase and include those families who have experienced a tragedy.
On April 7 a 1:30 p.m. shotgun blast will mark the return of the event that served as the seed for the WCF. All Westchase residents and businesses are invited to round up their neighborhood teams, grab their clubs and join the WCF for its ninth annual Westchase Cup Golf Tournament!
WCF Golf Committee Chair Craig Gordon announced the tournament will feature a team scramble format with prizes awaiting all contest winners, as well as awards for team scores in three flighted divisions. “We’re actually trying to get a celebrity foursome out there as well,” he stated.
Gordon added, “It’s going to be a nice afternoon where players can sample some great Westchase food and drink.”
Lunch will be provided by ABC Pizza. Other restaurants and establishments providing food and drink during the event include Carrabba’s, Stone Chase, Wing House, Catch Twenty-Three, Maloney’s and World of Beer.
WCF President Sean O’Donnell stated that the foundation is still looking for generous businesses wishing to sponsor the event. “There’s always opportunities for local businesses to step up and support their community, the people that support their business. The foundation is always willing to work with businesses to determine what is in their best interest.”
O’Donnell cited the local sports teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Bucs, as proposing creative ways to participate and sponsor WCF events that also highlight the teams and their support of charities. O’Donnell added that many local businesses show support that goes well beyond simple monetary donations. He quickly cited the proprietor of Catch Twenty-Three as an example. “Rob Wickner is always willing to have our struggling families come in for free meals on top of his foundation donation.”
O’Donnell encourages businesses to reach out to the foundation to explore sponsorship opportunities by contacting him at email@example.com or 777-1776 or Gordon at 503-0124.
According to Gordon, the Westchase Cup isn’t geared solely toward skilled golfers. It’s aimed at gathering all residents, regardless of skill level, for some fun and camaraderie. All players will receive a great player gift package and teams, regardless of skill level, have some chance to win, including a chance for a $25,000 hole-in-one prize.
While the early years of the Westchase Cup saw victories by teams from The Fords and later Harbor Links/The Estates, recent years have seen local churches and businesses walk away with the coveted Westchase Cup. “It’s time to bring the cup back to one of our local neighborhoods!” challenged Gordon, who stated organizers were trying to reach out to neighborhood voting members to encourage them to organize teams.
Interested residents can still register with either Jeff from Professional Golf Events at (615) 480-4743 or firstname.lastname@example.org or WCF Tournament Chair Craig Gordon at 503-0124. The event generally fills up so interested teams should register quickly to ensure a spot.
Let’s bring home the Westchase Cup – and help deserving families at the same time!
By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Cover Photo by James Broome Photography