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Mission to help vets continues in Bradenton at Rosedale despite pandemic

Despite cancellation of the Rosedale Golf Classic, the event still raises $132,905 for Homes for Our Troops.

Rosedale's Kathi Skelton and Deb Kehoe led an effort that raised $132,905 to benefit Homes for Our Troops in 2021.
Rosedale's Kathi Skelton and Deb Kehoe led an effort that raised $132,905 to benefit Homes for Our Troops in 2021.
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After making the hard decision to cancel the 2021 Rosedale Golf Classic to benefit Homes for Our Troops due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament committee was brainstorming ways they could still make a nice donation to help the disabled veterans.

One thing apparent over the eight years of the tournament has been the terrific support they have received from the Rosedale community.

However, that support was mostly from members of the local golf community or those familiar with Homes for Our Troops. Perhaps an introduction to the entire community was in order.

"Rosedale almost is built out now with 1,148 homes," co-tournament organizer Deb Kehoe said. "We thought we would make a flyer. We got out our map, handed out the assignments and put a flyer in every door."

The response was overwhelming.

"We raised $10,000," Kehoe said. "It definitely was worth it. We bumped into people we didn't know. We live in a generous, giving community and we are very appreciative of that."

While the pandemic has made the effort tougher, Kehoe and fellow tournament organizer Kathi Skelton said being forced to find other fundraising avenues could help in the future. They have connected with more people about their cause.

"We had a lot of opportunities in our community," Skelton said.

In 2020, the Rosedale Golf Classic contributed $161,000 to Homes for Our Troops, which builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans, enabling them to rebuild their lives. Their donation was the second largest in the nation by any one organization.

"We could have gone over $180,000, if we had the tournament," Skelton said.

However, just about everyone who paid to play in the golf tournament donated that fee even though the tournament wasn't played. The business and individuals who donated money to the cause told them to keep it.

Among those donors were many who donated $500 or more. Skelton and Kehoe went to those donors this year and asked if they would make a donation to the cause, even though there was no tournament. For each donation of $500 or more, a flag would be displayed in April at the Rosedale Golf and Country Club honoring the donor. Sixty-eight flags flew.

Skelton and Kehoe went to local businesses who had supported the effort in the past and they, too, stepped to the plate.

A raffle raised $1,600.

In all, the Rosedale Golf Classic donated $132,905 to Homes for Our Troops even though the tournament, along with the accompanying cocktail party and dinner, were not held.

Once again, the donation was the second largest in the nation.

This year's veteran who received a home was Wesley Chapel's Tim Read, a Marine. On Oct. 15, 2010, Read was on patrol with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines in Marjah, Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. He lost his left leg above the knee in addition to other injuries. He underwent numerous surgeries and rehabilitation therapies at Walter Reed Medical Center, Balboa Navy Medical Hospital in Tampa. While being treated in Tamap, he met his wife, Anh Lan Du, who works in the hospital's prosthetics department.

His new home is equipped with pull down shelves and a roll-in shower.

“Just being in a home, raising our family together – that will be the best thing to happen,” Read said.

That's what keeps Skelton and Kehoe working hard on raising funds.

"These veterans were seriously injured, and they would go back to Afghanistan in a heartbeat," Skelton said.

"Alex Dillman (of New Tampa) was our first one," Kehoe said. "He has rebuilt his life and his goal was to jump out of an airplane unassisted even though he was paralyzed from the chest down. When we saw the video of him doing it, we could not have been more proud."

Skelton said those who have supported the effort also have kept them going.

"We don't want to let them down," she said.

Both said they will be pleased on April 6, 2022 when the tournament returns and many of the Homes for Our Troops recipients can be on hand to meet with the donors.

"The mission continues," Kehoe said.


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