Polar Bear Open
Six years ago, I had a group of men approach me and ask if they could have a Polar Bear Open at our golf course. They had never planned a golf outing before, but as graduates from North High School in Des Moines, they had a strong desire to raise money for Dollars for Scholars at North High School. That winter, I went to about five of their golf outing planning committee meetings. Each time I went, I was greeted with many questions on event organization and how to raise more money. I gave them many suggestions and offered as much help as I could. In 2007, they hosted their first golf outing with about 40 golfers. The golf outing was considered a success. Money was raised and (more importantly) new alumni had been found with a desire to help.
The following year, I only attended two of their committee meetings. It was clearly evident that they were beginning to work out all the kinks that are involved in taking on such a project. Several committee members also began attending the O’Donnell & Friends Open. The O’Donnells have had 20 years of experience in charitable fundraising drives, so the Polar Bear committee played in their outing and took down some notes of things they thought worked well for fundraising. Then, the Polar Bear planning committee set some pretty high goals for themselves.
Every year for the last six years, they have continued to grow. I no longer go to their actual committee meetings in the winter because they have the system down. It’s just a matter of putting in the long hours to get the job done. Luckily, the north side of town and its businesses have been very supportive. They have a good reason to be supportive, too! The Polar Bear Open is a great success and treats the students with respect and gives them a reason to achieve.
The day began with the North High ROTC escorting golfers and carrying their bags to their carts. These are some fine young men and women who work very hard.
Once they were done with the bag carrying, they headed out on to the course to monitor the silent auction items on the holes.The golfers were treated to a fun activity at the practice green. They had a putting contest where you could use old fashioned hickory sticks to putt. If you made the putt, then you were put into a drawing to win a trip to Branson, MO.
The golfers were eager to give a try with these old time putters.
There are many tee sign sponsors to help make the event a success.
I think my favorite part of the Polar Bear Open has to be the celebration of North High’s school colors. Green, Pink and White.
The golfers attire, advertising, and general golfing gear celebrate their school colors.The planning committee works hard to have sponsors for the golf outing as well as the lunch and awards presentation. School pictures for all of the recipients of the scholarships are on display, so golfers can see who they are helping.
At the conclusion of the event, they have an awards presentation where they hand out prizes. During the day, the prizes are drawn to make this portion of the day go as quickly and efficiently as possible. The guys drew the tickets, then attached them to all of the prizes. As golfers finished, they could look to see if and/or what prize they got to claim.
The awards presentation takes place in our Events Center. Not leaving any detail left unturned, the planning committee even decorates the tables to add to the fun festivities.
They had the most number of golfers they have ever had in their six years. The golf outing was only eight golfers short of their goal that they made for themselves five years ago. With time and commitment, I know they will get to where they want to be and beyond.
The presentation included a number of people who had come out for the miniature golf tournament. The main golf course began its play at 8:00 in the morning and the miniature golf tournament began at 11 a.m. Everyone from both golf outings gathered to eat the lunch donated by Noodle Zoo and the NHS classes of ’78 and ’79, then they listened to the presentation.
The leader of the planning committee, Pat, took the microphone and thanked everyone involved. Then, he turned it over to the students whose lives this golf outing has affected. Last year, the Polar Bear Open planning committee had a young man who had just graduated from college (he had been awarded a scholarship in the Polar Bear Open’s first year in 2007) come and speak to the crowd about how much it meant for him to have fellow alumni cheering him on. Fruits of their labor! This year, they were treated to several students who had recently graduated from high school and were just beginning their journey on to college with the help of the Polar Bear Open and the Dollars for Scholars money they had been given.
It is so inspiring to watch alumni and fellow community members come together to provide a benefit to the students at North High School. There was a splattering of pink, green and white throughout the crowd. All there to support the future of their school. This year was their top fundraising year and they are already excitedly making plans for next year! Although a final determination has not been made regarding dollars raised, this year’s Polar Bear Open easily surpassed the $10,500 raised last year for scholarships for graduating North High students.
It has been so fun for me to watch this group of people grow and accomplish something great. Planning a fundraiser isn’t the easiest job. They have stuck with it and their success will continue into the future.
Were you in the ROTC? Have you contributed to your local Dollars for Scholars program?