By: Alison Bailin Batz
February marked a special stage of year for generous golf enthusiasts, as it was time again for the annual Celebrity Invitational.
On average each year, the fundraiser brings together more than 200 golfers as well as local and national sports celebrities, which has included such names as Marcus Allen, Marshall Faulk, Eric Dickerson, Cal Ripken Jr., Jay Feely, Mark West, Jim McMahon, Bob Uecker and more.
1983 was a very good year for the local philanthropic community.
Exactly 30 years ago, Stephen Y. Schwanz began serving the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
First a member of the Executive Council for the Boys & Girls Clubs (now EC70), Schwanz’s dedication caught the attention of Jim Stratton, then-CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. By 1995, Schwanz had joined the cause.
“His first order of business with Scottsdale was to develop a golf tournament that took advantage of the fact that so many nationally known athletes love and support the Valley – not to mention live here,” said Dillan Micus, executive vice president of AXA Advisors Southwest and current Celebrity Invitational chairman. “And just like that, the Celebrity Invitational was born.”
Growing steadily in support by local and national athletes as well as some of our most respected community leaders including Joe Proski, original athletic trainer for the Phoenix Suns; Craig Hadges of General Dynamics C4 Systems; Major League Baseball’s Mark Letendre; and Smith-Manus’ Shelly Lacrosse, in 2012 alone the event raised more than $100,000 for the Clubs’ critical mission. It also marked Micus’ first year at the helm of the event.
Out of the gate, Micus expanded the event to two days and added a gala cigar dinner – Bogies & Stogies.
In recent years, the event also began giving away a hall of fame award as part of its program. Named in honor of famed sports agent and philanthropist Barry Axelrod, the award is presented to one member of the Scottsdale community each year to honor devout community service and stewardship.
The Present & Future
The 2013 Celebrity Invitational, as everyone hoped, was on par to continue its lofty fundraising goals.
“The two-day event on February 7 and 8, which boasted food and beverage partners including Glenmorangie, Belvedere, Rodney Strong, Scottsdale Cigar Club and many more, raised more than $100,000 again for the Club’s critical work,” said Micus. “It will go directly to supporting the more than 100 programs offered by the greater-Scottsdale Clubs, not to mention the nine branches where kids can go each day throughout the area.”
Just some of the generous sponsors who stepped up to help this year included:
· AXA Advisors Southwest
· General Dynamics
· First Western Trust Bank
· Republic Services
· U.S. Trust
· Mutual Bank of Omaha
· Chasse Building Team
· Scottsdale Plaza Resort
And, and many other great business partners coupled with some of the Valley’s best local athletes, including friends from the Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks and many more.