FOTAS just held its Fifth Annual Playing Fore the Pets Golf Tournament and Helicopter Ball Drop on Oct. 1. The event was bigger than ever, with 176 golfers participating in the tournament and 996 ball drop raffle tickets sold.
In just five years, this special event has become the biggest FOTAS fundraiser of the year. It’s quite an achievement but such success doesn’t happen by accident. The event has grown and progressively raised more money to benefit the homeless pets at the Aiken County Animal Shelter due tostrong leadership and a lot of hard work.
The leadership? Sandy and Ross Staiger, co-chairs of the event. When Ross retired in 2011, the couple moved from New Hampshire and made their home in Aiken. Sandy joined FOTAS in 2012 as a dog-walking volunteer and soon put her photography skills to good use, taking high-quality pictures of shelter dogs to promote their availability and use in their profiles. She helped out at various FOTAS events, including the organization’s annual Woofstock festival, and
thought adding a golf tournament to the FOTAS schedule of events could be a nice fit.
Never one to sit quietly when she has a suggestion, Sandy shared her idea to start a golf-themed fundraising event with FOTAS President Jennifer Miller. The event would include their signature attraction, a helicopter hovering 300 feet in the air, dropping hundreds of numbered golf balls onto a target below. Each ball would represent a $10 raffle ticket and the person whose ball landed closest to the target would win $1,000. Miller and the FOTAS Board liked the idea and held the premier Playing Fore the Pets fundraiser in 2014.
“The goal of this event is not only to provide a fun time for amateur golfers and raise money for the animals, but also to build awareness of the needs at the County Shelter and inform the community about FOTAS’s many helpful programs that help these unwanted pets,” Sandy said.
The hard work of planning and executing the tournament is done by the Playing Fore the Pets event committee. According to the Staigers, this group is the “heart” of the tournament’s success. No outside contest experts are hired. No consultants provide support. It’s up to this small unit to minimize expenses and do all the leg work. FOTAS volunteers fill the role of the event’s service staff on tournament day.
The committee includes: four-year veterans Karen Loughran, Sharon Johnson and Connie Jarzmik; two-year vets Jan Barker and Cori McCorkle; and Cindie Davidson, who joined the committee this year. These women start organizing and seeking sponsors in May and their work doesn’t let up until the day of the tournament and golf ball drop.
This year, sponsorship signs, banners, and beautiful prize baskets dominated the tournament grounds more than ever — all due to the work of committee members and the generosity of both long-time and freshman sponsors.
“The best part for Ross, me and the committee is seeing the result of our efforts,” Sandy said. “It’s all about benefiting the County Shelter animals.”
Their lives are in our hands.
— By Bob Gordon, FOTAS Communications Director
By the Numbers
In the first four days of October, the County Animal Shelter received 120 strays and surrendered pets – an average of 30 animals per day!