I am going to try to put my thoughts and emotions into words but I am afraid I will come up short of capturing exactly how I am feeling. On Friday, January 20, the deeply caring and benevolent spirit of those who comprise the golf industry were on display at The Breakers Rees Jones® Course in West Palm Beach (owned and operated by The Breakers Palm Beach). The overwhelming outpouring of support had me in an emotional frenzy the past couple of days, so I really want to ascend to a high summit somewhere and shout out that people are good and thoughtful and giving!
Since I am in no shape to climb to a mountain top, I will settle for writing this blog post with the hope that it reaches more readers anyway.
It is during a most challenging time in the life of GCSAA member Neil Sheridan that our industry (really, our family) pulled together in such a remarkable fashion to show Neil just how valued he is not only as a member of The Breakers community but also as a part of the state and national golf community. Neil has recently been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. More specifically, a rare tumor that develops off the adrenal gland called Pheochromocytoma.
Currently, the tumor is about the size of a softball. After a couple of months of stomach issues, back pain, and loss of appetite, the cancer was discovered. Unfortunately, by this time, it had spread to his T9 vertebrae and is nearly wrapped around his aortic artery, which completely rules out surgery unless it can be shrunk down.
Neil is 35 with two children under the age of three! The treatment plan Neil is doing now is called M.I.B.G. which is a high dose of radioactive isotope and is being carried out at Sloan Kettering, one of the leading cancer centers in the world. The facility is based in New York and they specialize in treating this extremely rare form of cancer. He is truly in the best hands possible.
As you may imagine, this care comes at a hefty price and will undoubtedly create some hardship for Neil. This is where The Breakers’ Director of Golf and Grounds Mark Reid and Danny St. Louis, director of golf at Breakers West, put together a plan to hold a fundraising event for Neil and his family. The initial thoughts were to have 18 teams of four play the Rees Jones Course in the afternoon and donate the proceeds from the day to Neil, as well as having some raffle fundraisers to kick in a little extra.
Was that ever a colossal underestimate of how much participation and support this event would garner. There was such a great demand to be a part of the day that the decision was made to have a morning shot gun in addition to the afternoon shot gun. Both events were full with no additional room for a foursome.
The energy of the day was palpable as I spoke with individuals from all walks as well as those within the industry that were there to support Neil. The group I was paired with, friend of a friend of Neil's wife Kate, came from Georgia, Orlando, and Palm Beach Gardens. They just knew they wanted to participate in such a worthwhile endeavor. Class was on display at every turn this day courtesy of the entire Breakers organization!
The Breakers ran a first class event on behalf of Neil and his family and the day exemplified why they are considered a premiere golfing destination with world-renowned facilities as well as top quality human beings. It was truly a pleasure being on hand for this occasion along with the best that the game has to offer.
I have had the opportunity to speak with Mark Reid since the day and express how moved I was to be a part of this event. He echoed my emotions and relayed that he was also touched by the support that was shown. If there were more Mark Reid’s in this world, we would definitely be living in a better place! Mark anticipated that the event will have raised, when all is said and done, roughly $95,000.
For something that started with the hopes of raising a little bit to help support a family in need, the enormity of the day still escapes words for me. It’s not the dollar amount that was raised that is what I will remember long after Neil has won his battle with cancer, but rather the display of the best of the human spirit and the positivity of the day that enveloped all who were there.
Neil, you remain in my thoughts and prayers as well as the prayers of those many more who were also touched by the magnificent outpouring of love and support! Thank you for allowing me the honor of sharing the day.