Rain delayed the beginning of Saturday's 4th annual Martin J. Larson II Golf Outing, but it didn't dampen another very successful fundraising event.
More than 150 golfers participated on the links and many others attended the dinner, silent auction and raffle at Sanctuary Golf Course in New Lenox.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Marty J. Larson II Foundation, which was founded in 2007 to perpetuate the remembrance of Marty. Funds collected by the Foundation are contributed to Lincoln-Way Central High School in the form of scholarships to the American Cancer Society, Multiple Sclerosis Society and for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
Many who have been stricken with these diseases have received support from the foundation over the years and the tremendous amount of gratitude was documented in a temporary display outside the clubhouse.
"We were very lucky with the weather and lucky with the friends we have," said Dale Larson, who is Marty's father and the chief organizer of the event. "Next year will be the fifth year, and my wife wants that to be special because it's the fifth year, so we'll have to figure out something else to do."
Something brand-new for this outing was the closest-to-the-pin ball drop with a crane. More than 350 numbered golf balls were raised in two large buckets high above a temporary putting green and dumped.
The winner of the closest-to-the-pin received a tub filled with more than $1,000 in alcoholic beverages, likely enough to last until next year's golf outing. Sharon, who is Marty's mother, and proved to be one of the busiest workers on Saturday, said the event usually generates $20,000 to $25,000.
"The idea for the foundation came from my husband (Dale) and some of his friends," she said. "We've been blessed to be able to help a lot of local families with donations to help with their hospital bills."
Support hasn't been difficult for the foundation, as most attendees had committed by the July 1st deadline.
"Those who were here last year had until July 1st to respond, and we were like 90 percent done by July 1st," Dale Larson said. "So, there were very few foursome openings left. We've been very fortunate to always have a full house and we're lucky because we raise a lot, but then it's also for a good cause."
Larson and all of the volunteers and supporters also lucked out with the weather. What began as a dreary and rainy day, ultimately cleared up. While tee times were delayed by an hour and many folks began attacking the dinner buffet before the closet-to-the-pin crane drop, the day still proved to be another great success.
"It was my first time playing golf this year, but we had a lot of fun," Dave Smidt said. "I got to play with my Dad (Sandy) whose known Dale for a long time, so we were happy to be a part of this."
The support was just as strong for those who didn't swing a pitching wedge.
"I knew Marty in high school and we were good friends," Jamie Skraban said. "I come and help with the raffle baskets each year. The memories it stirs every year can be rough, but the negative turns to a positive because of the good we're able to do. So, it's worth it."
It was also strong from a man in a suit and another who preferred to swing lumber. Special guests included Staley, the Chicago Bears mascot, and former Chicago White Sox outfielder/first baseman/designated hitter Dan Pasqua, who played for the South Side club from 1988-1994.
"I do five to six charity events each year," Pasqua said. "I signed some stuff. It was good."
As was the event.