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Golfers are putting with a purpose: 100 holes of golf return to Wanakah Country Club

WANAKAH, NY (WIVB) — On the first day of Summer, Golfers at Wanakah Country club are getting in the swing and putting with a purpose. They’re playing and walking 100 holes of golf on Thursday, all to help raise funds for Roswell Park’s Courage of Carly fund and Live Like Luca.

This is the ninth year of the annual fundraiser that Simon Bennett started. Over the years, they’ve raised around $750,000 and they’re hoping to surpass a million dollars soon.

“I wanted an excuse to play golf all day really, but at the same time do good and worth while raising money for a good cause,” said Bennett. “Both foundations raise money and give money for children in Western New York.”

The Courage of Carly fund was started by a Roswell Park patient more than 20 years ago, who saw a need for programs and events for patients like her.

“Since then, we have raised fund to have things like teen prom, take kids to events, and have in-clinic activities like art, music, that really just help kids be kids,” said Michelle Ostrander, Director of Marketing and Communications of Roswell Park. “It’s truly amazing how resilient kids are, but it really is important to us to care for the whole patient, and that includes giving kids access to things like art and things to distract them, some diversionary programs, that really just help them remember that they are not just their cancer diagnosis.”

Roger Calanni’s son, Luca, passed away from complications of the flu four years ago. Roger tells us three weeks before Luca passed, he came up with the idea of a foundation to help give underserved youth opportunities like scholarships, sports programs and more.

“We were getting gas after basketball practice and he saw the mega-millions Powerball in the window and said ‘Dad, how awesome would it be if we won the lottery, we could start a foundation for kids who aren’t as lucky as me and a lot of my friends’ and that’s what myself, my wife Ashley, family friends, that’s exactly what we did,” said Roger Calanni. “We’re just trying to continue his vision that he had in ensuring that it continues on.”

Golfers started the day of golf around 5:20 a.m. and are expected to play until around 9 p.m. Organizers say it’s walking nearly 35 miles in total.

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Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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