It’s fitting that dozens of St. Luke’s employees volunteered at the Boise Open this year, just as they have since the tournament’s inception 28 years ago. Because golf isn’t just a game when it comes to St. Luke’s and team members; it’s also a two-way street.
St. Luke’s staff members and volunteers give back to the golfing world and golfers have reciprocated, steadfastly turning out to support St. Luke’s in its mission.
Other sporting events similarly partner with St. Luke’s; think Pink in the Rink at Idaho Steelheads games, which benefits St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute.
Zoe Brunelle, St. Luke’s Health Foundation’s director of special events, said golf tournaments represent a huge piece of the pie when it comes to support through sporting events.
“Third-party and signature golf tournaments are a significant source of philanthropic dollars for St. Luke’s, more than any other single sport,” Brunelle said. “They are present and consistent in each of the communities we serve.”
One especially significant event – even on a national level – is the Killebrew-Thompson Memorial. That tournament, with a goal of funding cancer research, has been going strong each summer in Sun Valley for the past 41 years. To date, the tournament has raised $15.6 million. The funds are split evenly between St. Luke’s MSTI and the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota.
St. Luke’s benefits from two types of tournaments: those that are organized by St. Luke’s and those that are run by third parties.
“I think our third-party events are really special, because those are people who don’t have to put the work that they do into raising funds for St. Luke’s,” Brunelle said. “But they do it because they care and they want to do something to give back. They end up raising, collectively, hundreds of thousands of dollars every year that directly benefit our patients.”
Case in point: the Brian Olson Memorial Golf Tournament, which raised $28,450 in 2017 and has generated more than $790,000 since 2001. Donations from that tournament help fund MSTI’s colon cancer prevention, early detection and screening programs. The tournament is named after Brian Olson, a Boise resident and former Hewlett Packard employee who died in 1999 at the age of 39 from colon cancer.
In addition to third-party events, St. Luke’s organizes tournaments throughout the state, from Magic Valley to McCall to Elmore County.
A signature event is the Scramble for the Kids, which BanBury Golf Course in Eagle has hosted for years.
“We’ve been putting on the tournament since 1985, and since that time, it’s raised more than $1.6 million for the kids at St. Luke’s,” Brunelle said. “It’s probably one of the highest-grossing golf tournaments in the Treasure Valley. We raised more than $139,000 this year.”
This year’s funds will benefit St. Luke’s Children’s new Children’s Pavilion outpatient facility. The Children’s Pavilion will unite St. Luke’s pediatric specialties and services under one roof. That collaboration will be more efficient, providing better care for the physical and emotional needs of St. Luke’s patients and their families.
Sure, golfers at these tournaments might shank the occasional drive or miss some short putts. But they leave the courses knowing that they’ve helped St. Luke’s continue its mission of improving the health of people in the communities the organization serves.
“Golf fundraisers really do make a huge impact,” Brunelle said.
Golfing for Good
Among the third-party tournaments, which donate some or all of proceeds to St. Luke's, and those tournaments St. Luke’s organizes:
St. Luke's Elmore Classic
Brian Olson Memorial Golf Tournament (benefits St. Luke's MSTI)
Sam Hartz Memorial Golf Scramble (benefits St. Luke's Humphreys Diabetes Center)
Jack’s Classic Memorial Golf Tournament (benefits St. Luke's MSTI)
Scramble for the Kids (benefits St. Luke’s Children’s)
St. Luke’s McCall Invitational (benefits expansion of St. Luke’s McCall)
St. Luke's Magic Valley Classic
Par for the Course: St. Luke’s Employees Make an Impact by Volunteering at Boise Open
The Boise Open has been a mainstay at Hillcrest Country Club for nearly three decades, and St. Luke’s has been a supporter of the golf tournament every step of the way.
Each year since its inception, members of the St. Luke’s team have joined hundreds of other volunteers who help stage the event.
“It’s a small army. We have about 685 volunteers that participate in this event, and St. Luke’s has been a partner with us for 28 years,” said Trudy Latham, the Boise Open’s general volunteer chairman. “We’re happy that St. Luke’s has been our partner all these years.”
Jerrimi Helmick, a nurse practitioner with St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Fruitland, was up bright and early for the final round of this year’s tournament. She arrived at the St. Luke’s first-aid booth at 8 a.m. Sunday to begin her shift.
Helmick has been volunteering at the Boise Open for the past five years.
“My family golfs, so I thought, ‘Well shoot, I’ll come over and work the booth and the kids and the husband can watch the golf tournament and I’ll be here in the booth,’” Helmick said. “The kids have grown up, but I’m still coming.”
Helmick said her shift was mostly uneventful, which was a good thing.
“We usually do scraped knees and sunburns and things like that,” she said.
If a more serious medical situation arose, Ada County paramedics also were on site, and as it does off the course as well, St. Luke’s maintains a relationship with the first responders.
Sara Morfin and Todd Brown, St. Luke’s nurses who work together on a regular basis, relieved Helmick in the St. Luke’s booth early Sunday afternoon.
“It’s a great way to give back to the community,” Morfin said.
Brown said he and Morfin try to volunteer at a few events each year, including the Western Idaho Fair and basketball tournaments. They have also helped with area high school physicals. Their efforts are in keeping with the organization’s mission to improve the health of people in the communities St. Luke’s serves.
The score? The St. Luke’s volunteers thought it was a win-win situation.“It’s a pretty big event in the community, so it’s nice to be a part of it,” Helmick said.
Chris Langrill is a writer and copy editor for the St. Luke’s Communications and Marketing department.