It’s all about the faces of the veterans who served their country that is getting the attention in the Scramble for Freedom Golf Tournament to be hosted June 5.
The West Central Veterans Assistance League (VAL) fundraiser, in its 13th year, will benefit the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg. Three years ago, Missouri Veterans Home Supervisor of Volunteer Services Latisha Koetting said there were only seven golf cart sponsorships during the event. This year she is expecting a sponsorship in the triple digits.
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” she said.
For the last three years Koetting has been selling $50 golf cart sponsorships that feature a photo of a veteran in uniform plus information about their military service. She’s found that the golf teams enjoy looking at the photos as they play. Sometimes they meet the men and women behind the photo too.
Her motto is “honor your favorite veteran while helping another veteran.”
“We’ve hit 82 (sponsorships) today for the golf carts, and we’ve heard from five more, so we’ll be up to 87,” Koetting said on Friday. “My first year I had 72 golf carts, last year I had 82 golf carts.
“I will surpass that this year with the sponsorships because I let people do them in honor of or in memory of veterans, and put their service photos on them,” she added. “That way your are honoring your favorite veterans and you are helping another veteran at the same time.”
Koetting said the photos of the veterans reminds the players they are at a veteran benefit tournament. The players often go and look at each other’s carts to see the photos.
“A lot of those guys go to a charity golf tournament each weekend,” she noted. “These photos are positioned where your rearview mirror is, so your eyes are automatically drawn up there.”
Any veteran can be sponsored on the carts both young and old and those alive or deceased.
“I think we have at least five younger veterans who are being sponsored,” Koetting added. “Whether it’s a grandparent or a parent who is proud of their son or their daughter. We’ve got guys who are currently serving in Afghanistan now, all the way up to, one’s that passed away from, World War II.”
Last year Koetting had one family sponsored a relative who was a World War I veteran.
“There’s a lot of history in the service photos,” she said. “They say so much.”
Missouri Veterans Home resident Arthur Barnett, a World War II Navy Radarman 2nd Class, was sponsored by Holden VFW Post No. 5844 Ladies Auxiliary last year. He was honored that his community remembered him.
“He was so surprised and so honored that the ladies remembered who he was,” Koetting said. “He showed up that afternoon with his daughter and his granddaughter because he wanted to see his golf cart.
“It just so happened that his sponsorship was on the golf cart of Chuck Ambrose the president of University of Central Missouri (Warrensburg),” she added. “So here Chuck had been looking at his picture all day and then all of sudden there he was. So, it brings history to life.”
All of the money raised during the event will go toward the home’s new “kneeling bus” that is able to lower the entrance or body of the bus to accommodate people with disabilities. The home has 200 veterans, ages 46 to 99, representing all branches of the service.
“We are about $30,000 shy of hitting that $120,000,” Koetting said of the bus fund.
She believes they will be close to receiving the amount this year with funds from the tournament.
“Because we’ve been doing so well with the other fundraisers, we put the order in for the bus on Veterans Day,” she said. “The reason being, you want them to be able to drive the bus in the summer.
“The great thing is, the bus has arrived at our home and it has been wrapped so it’s all beautiful red-white-and-blue,” she added. “This morning they took the very first group veterans out for a scenic ride on the bus.”
Koetting said the golf tournament can accommodate 36 teams, at present they have 26 signed up. The cost is $240 per four person team.
“It includes lunch, and it includes 18 holes of golf, and includes their cart,” she added. “They end up with three flights and then the top team in each flight will win $400.”
There will also be door prizes plus each team will have their photo taken.
“It’s a lot of fun, plus we bring a busload of our veterans out to the golf tournament, to watch and to visit with the golfers” Koetting said. “Last year we had one of our veterans shoot the air horn for the shotgun start-off, so we will keep that going and pick a different veteran this year. That’s something special and it gets them involved in the event.”
She added that there are already five golf teams from Sedalia participating this year.
“The community of Sedalia is so veteran oriented, and veteran centered,” she noted. “We have golf carts being sponsored by the VFW, the American Legion and the 40 & 8. It’s such a sense of pride to see that support.”
The 2016 Scramble for Freedom will be hosted Sunday June 5 at Royal Oaks Golf Course at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at 10 a.m. The cost is $240 for a four person team. Golf cart sponsorships in honor or in memory of a veteran are $50. To register for the tournament call 429-4661 or go online at, 2016valscramble.evenbrite.com. To buy a sponsorship contact Koetting at 429-4661 or email [email protected] Deadline for sponsorship is June 1.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.