Memorial golf tournament tees off for charity
— Created September 9, 2020 by Kacie Jo Voeller
By Kacie Jo Voeller
Golfers of all skill levels will have the chance to golf for a cause at the Fourth Annual Bennett Boyles Memorial Golf Tournament, which will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Whidbey Golf Club in Oak Harbor.
Mitch Aparicio, one of the owners of Penn Cove Brewing Company and an organizer of the tournament, said the event was founded by Penn Cove Brewing Company in 2016 as a way to support Bennett Boyles and his family as the middle schooler underwent treatment for cancer. Now, the event is a way to honor his memory, and funds raised support the WhidbeyHealth Foundation and a scholarship fund for Bennett’s Coupeville High School graduating class of 2022 through the Community Foundation for Coupeville Public Schools.
“Early on, we had an opportunity to know Bennett through the sports he did through the local newspaper, and it came to our attention that he was battling cancer,” he said. “The first year was really just to try to raise some funds to help his family and that is how it started. We teamed up with the WhidbeyHealth Foundation that provides funds to families in the local community and after he passed, we continued to do it in his memory.”
Helen Taylor, executive director of the WhidbeyHealth Foundation, said the organizers of the tournament have had to adapt to make the event possible while carefully following safety measures.
“We are honored and impressed that Penn Cove Brewing Company has taken it upon themselves, with all that they are doing, with all that they are growing, with all that they are creating, to continue and tackle the safety issues and push forward to make this tournament happen,” she said. “I could not be more impressed with them. It would be easy to say, ‘We will skip it this year,’ and they did not do that. They are stepping up instead of stepping back and we could not be more grateful.”
Aparicio said in the wake of COVID-19, the event has made several adjustments. Participants will be asked to wear masks, social distance and follow the rules laid out for golf courses at this time. As well, Aparicio said registration will be online to prevent having a check-in line the day of the event, and the usual post-event awards ceremony and raffle will be held online.
“I think everybody will follow guidelines,” he said. “We will have people play a round of golf like they did last year, we will just sacrifice having a get-together, but we will still raise as much as we can just like we wanted to.”
Taylor said this year’s fundraising will go to support the pediatric rehabilitation services branch of the WhidbeyHealth Foundation, which was chosen by Bennett’s mother, Lucienne Rivera. In past years, the funds raised have also gone to WhidbeyHealth Cancer Care.
“It (pediatric rehabilitation) was something that benefitted Bennett when he was ill and also will benefit kids from one end of the island to the other,” Taylor said.
Aparicio said the event has grown each year, and this year the event’s organizers hope the same trend continues.
“We have got ambitious goals this year,” he said. “But the support has been amazing and it kind of echoes what our values and philosophies are, giving back to something like that. That is important to us.”
Taylor said the conditions of COVID-19 have impacted fundraisers across the island, with many having to cancel or adjust to meet safety guidelines.
“This has taught all of the fundraisers on the island that we need to grow and adapt because the needs are not going anywhere and in some cases the needs are getting greater,” she said. “We have to be flexible. The thing that has been the biggest gift in this crisis has been recognizing that our donors are really there for us, that they are there to be creative with us and roll with it if the event is virtual, roll with it if the event requires masks and understanding that again, the needs do not go away and in the case of a hospital, the needs get greater.”
Aparicio said the tournament will work carefully to keep participants safe, and also has options for those who do not feel comfortable coming to the event by offering the chance for donations, business sponsorships or donating prizes for the raffle.
“I think we will be surprised how much we can still do despite the shutdown,” he said.
Taylor said in spite of challenges, the Whidbey Island community has continued to support various causes on the island.
“This community is unbelievable,” she said. “The fundraising energy, the community participation and the professional folks that are raising money for different nonprofits – I have seen just so much positive energy and effort and determination in that group and it is very impressive.”
Aparicio said the tournament has sparked support from individuals and local businesses alike.
“For this year, I already have 40 people signed up for golfing, so that is over half of what we had last year,” he said. “I think that is pretty good, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Taylor said the event is an enjoyable day for all skill levels and helps to support a great cause.
“It is a really fun event,” she said. “It is a golf tournament put on by a brewery, so let’s talk about that for a second – they know how to throw a party. It is a party from the minute you start (and) you do not have to be a great golfer.”
For more information and to register for or donate to the fundraiser, visit penncovebrewing.com.