Sage Valley is synonymous with hospitality and generosity, virtues that the Junior Invitational has fully adopted. Players and their families are hosted throughout the week and the gates are opened to spectators, giving the public a rare look at one of the country's most well-respected private golf clubs. But we are most proud of our philanthropic efforts and grateful to the generous sponsors whose commitment has allowed the Junior Invitational to donate more than $1 million to The First Tee chapters in Aiken, S.C. and Augusta, GA. The tournament is proudly expanding its giving potential. New leadership, established with the creation of the SVJI Sports Foundation in 2015, has allowed the tournament to also commit to funding support for the Press On Fund in 2017.
THE FIRST TEE
Research shows that participation in the game of golf teaches children core values such as responsibility, honesty, integrity, respect, confidence, sportsmanship, perseverance, courtesy and judgment, which can be transferred from the golf course to everyday life at home and in business. The mission of the Junior Invitational is to not only provide a world-class event, but also to promote these values as ways to prepare children and teach adults how to participate fully and responsibly in all of life's activities.
Since its inception in 1997, The First Tee has been dedicated to introducing young people of all backgrounds to the game of golf and its inherently positive values. The First Tee is committed to utilizing this platform as an instrument to impart meaningful and lasting life lessons to participants and students that are then transferred to family, schools, jobs and to exploring career aspirations. By combining life skills with golf skills, The First Tee is demonstrating what many of us have known for years: Golf is more than a game, and the values one learns through golf can help individuals achieve in life.
PRESS ON FUND
Stephen and Erin Chance had been lifelong friends with Turner and Tara Simkins when their son Patrick was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Two years later, Brennan Simkins was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. When both children relapsed, after receiving the best possible treatment at the world's finest pediatric cancer centers, the families took it upon themselves to establish the Press On Fund in 2009 to invest in cures for both of their sons' diseases. In 2016, they expanded the mission to include all pediatric cancers when they invited Bob and Melanie Crawford, whose daughter Hallie was struggling with a rare brain tumor, to join Press On.
Today, the Press On Fund is committed to identifying feasible and ground-breaking alternative therapies for childhood cancers and to raise funds for research efforts committed to finding a CURE for childhood cancer within our lifetime. To date, Press On has raised over $3.7 million dollars, which it has invested in research initiatives with institutions like the Georgia Cancer Center, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, Sloan Kettering and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Patrick Chance lost his battle with neuroblastoma in 2012. Although Brennan faces daily challenges from the side effects of toxic treatments, including four bone marrow transplants, he is in remission, and Hallie continues to survive after countless surgeries and treatments.
"We're fighting for campouts, campfires and s'mores. We're fighting for soccer games and ballet classes. We're fighting for a world without childhood cancer."