The West is Best Foundation is having its first ever benefit golf tournament — and two SM West seniors are organizing it.
Ruben Anderson and Carter Johnson have teamed up with the foundation to organize the golf tournament as their community giving project with their school’s DECA chapter. The two seniors and junior Jake Hajduch have planned the tournament as a fundraising opportunity for the foundation.
The West is Best Charity Golf Tournament takes place Oct. 11 at Tomahawk Hills Golf Course, 17501 Midland Drive, Shawnee.
Established in 2012 by Dave and Kelly Tines, parents of two children who graduated from Shawnee Mission West, the West is Best Foundation has raised more than $85,000 in scholarships and extracurricular activities to help West-area students from kindergarten to 12th grade stay involved.
“We are really blessed to be both really involved, and we just want to make sure that future generations through West have that opportunity to be involved,” Johnson said.
They also hope to see the golf tournament become an annual fundraising event for the foundation.
“Since we’re in the first year, we’re obviously going to run into some problems and maybe things we’re not really sure about because of course, it’s the first year,” Johnson said. “But maybe next year we can get them improvements, what to work on, what’s expected, and then they’ll be able to make it the best they can.”
Anderson said that as part of the project, they’re paving the way to help future students host the tournament again next year.
“For this project, we write a paper, so it’ll document everything we did, everything that we’re doing,” he said. “I think there’s a lot more that goes into planning than I originally thought there was. There’s definitely a lot of little details that we have to work out.”
Johnson added that he’s realized the importance of excelling at communication when sharing raising awareness of the golf tournament and sponsorship opportunities.
“I’ve realized that it’s really important to excel in talking to people and always being that positive guy,” Johnson said. “If they see you as that, I think it’s a good thing, if I’m that guy trying to get donations from you, they’ll see that as really important.”
Their teacher, Kelly Kaczmarczyk, said her students are “doing an amazing job” with organizing the tournament.
“They’ve taken a lot of initiative and pretty much are doing it all on their own,” she said. “They check in with me, ask for my help or opinion on some things, but otherwise, it’s all them. So they’re getting some real-world experience and running, really, a difficult endeavor.”
Since the fall semester started, Johnson and Anderson have already raised about $1,500, landed several sponsors and have raised awareness of the tournament for interested golfers.
“We hopped like right into it; we knew what we wanted to do,” Johnson added. “We’re still working really hard to make sure it’s a successful event.”
The two seniors’ parents said they’re proud of their sons’ efforts to organize, communicate and fundraise for the tournament.
“They worked hard; every night they’re at one of their houses planning what they’re going to do the next day, who they need to call,” said Tracy Johnson, Carter’s mother.
“I’m just really impressed at how hard they worked,” added Dawn Anderson, Ruben’s mother. “They’ve really taken this on themselves and haven’t really asked for a lot of help from adults. They’re recruiting their classmates to help.”
Sponsorships and playing golf aren’t the only ways people can get involved. People can also donate prizes such as gift cards.
The tournament begins at 8 a.m. Entry fee is $75 per person.