Charity golf tournament to benefit wounded warriors

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The inaugural Nittany Lions/SEAL Legacy Foundation Golf Classic, which will be held at noon on Friday, Sept. 14, at the Toftrees Country Club in State College, Pa., is currently seeking golfers to participate on 27 teams. Each team will be hosted by a letterman from the Penn State football team, a letterman from the U.S. Naval Academy or a wounded veteran. Tournament organizers -- which also include Ruth Ann Jackson, instructor in the School of Hospitality Management, and Patricia Kleban, senior instructor in recreation, park and tourism management -- also are seeking sponsors to help support the teams.

Chairmen of the tournament include Bill O’Brien, head football coach at Penn State; Ken Niumatalolo, head football coach at the U.S. Naval Academy; Gerald Fussell, retired colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps; and Ryan McCombie, retired captain of the United States Navy SEALs and newly-elected member of the Penn State Board of Trustees.

Faculty members from the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State are volunteering their time to help organize the charity golf tournament, which will benefit the SEAL Legacy Foundation -- dedicated to providing educational assistance and support grants to families of wounded and fallen United States Navy SEALs -- and the Salute Military Golf Association, which provides mental and physical rehabilitation through golf instruction, equipment and playing opportunities to post-9/11 wounded American combat veterans.

“Recreation can improve the physical and mental health and well-being of wounded veterans and active-duty military personnel,” said Tammy Smith, instructor in recreation, park and tourism management at Penn State and one of the tournament’s organizers. “Many injured vets are dealing with new bodies. They might have had an arm amputation, a leg amputation, or both. Some are dealing with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder. Golf offers an outlet; it provides camaraderie and a way to reintegrate back into their communities.”

Although the tournament falls outside Smith’s work duties at Penn State, it does overlap with her scholarly interests. At Penn State, she offers a class for U.S. military personnel on how to provide recreation opportunities for people with disabilities. The program, which began in January 2009, has already impacted nearly 600 military personnel who work in locations around the world. In addition, she has piloted an Accessible Golf-Training Program that provides certificates to Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) and Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) professionals who complete coursework focused on understanding people with disabilities and helping them play the game of golf.

Smith said the organizers hope to make the tournament an annual event.

The inaugural 2012 tournament is being held in honor of Denis Montgomery, a former Penn State employee who worked with Smith on the Accessible Golf-Training Program.

“Denis devoted the last years of his life to the development of accessible golf for wounded veterans,” said Smith. “We will honor him by presenting a trophy in his name to the golf team.”

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Last Updated August 07, 2012