The crowd erupts! A look at the celebration after a hole in one on Monday. BBBS FACEBOOK PHOTO

Big money for a great cause

Big Brothers Big Sisters host their 20 annual celebrity golf tournament

There were some big names in Big Sky this week.

Many former football players and other celebrities showed up for the Big Brother Big Sisters(BBBS) celebrity golf tournament that took place on Monday July, 19. This year was the 20th annual tournament by BBBS. The tournament was a four person scramble and it included a handful of celebrities, mainly from the football community. Former players such as Autry Beamon, Isaac Curtis, Dane Fletcher, Greg Lloyd and Tom Newberry were at the event.

The event was sponsored by Big Sky Resort, American Bank, Alder & Tweed, Yellowstone Club Community Foundation, PRG group, Comfort Systems, the Yellowstone Club, Earth Elements, Billings Clinic and Martel Construction.

The history for this event started back in 2000, when former Vice President of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys Gil Brandt wanted to start an annual celebrity golf tournament in Big Sky. He used his connections in the football world to build a pool of celebrities to play. He wanted the tournament to help fund a local organization in the Big Sky community. That organization ended up being Big Brothers Big Sisters. The first BBBS celebrity golf tournament was in 2001 and in those 20 years the tournament has seen celebrity musicians, actors, football players, hockey players and golfers participate in the action. The event has grown rapidly throughout the time, mainly by word of mouth. It has grown to the point that this event has become one of BBBS’s largest fundraisers throughout the year.

On top of the golf  tournament, the event also included a cocktail party at Vista Hall at Big Sky Resort. Significant funds were raised for the BBBS through their silent and live auctions. Both auctions included donated items or experiences from local businesses throughout the community. This year’s cocktail dinner also included a comedy show for the first time. The show featured three talented comedians with national recognition, Chris Fairbanks, James Davis and Forrest Shaw. The three comedians have been on shows such as “Conan”, “Jimmy Kimmel Live”, “The Jim Jefferies Show”, and “The Conor Moore Show”. The cocktail dinner was a tranquil way of getting the event started according to Big Brothers Big Sisters Program Director Amy Hunter, “It gave people a chance to mingle and really get to know each other a bit before the tournament started,” Hunter said.

The funds raised from both the tournament and the cocktail dinner will go towards BBBS. More specifically, they will go towards things such as safety training for adults, communication needs to check in with each child, teen mental health training programs, as well as many exciting activities that BBBS puts on. The program puts on a STEM project and another unique project within the Big Sky School District each year. Last year, students from Lone Peak High School paired up with students from Ophir Elementary school to write a book together. This book was then published and given to the group.

Events such as this work towards BBBS’s goal of bringing children of different ages together in Big Sky. Hunter believes that since the new elementary school has been built, it has been harder for kids to have connections with one another at the other school, “Many kids don’t have a connection to the other school, older and younger kids,” Hunter said.

The Big Sky program is scheduled to have nearly 50 matches between high schoolers and elementary schoolers this fall. That includes roughly half of the high school, which is an incredible participation rate according to Hunter. She believes the program is vital to the young students of the community and the money raised earlier this week is instrumental, “It is hugely important. The program allows students to make connections which helps them build confidence, stay in school, and do well in school,” Hunter said.

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