Local Golf Classic Raises Funds to Honor CGHS Alumni
By Barbara Augsdorfer

The death of a child at any age is every parent’s worst nightmare. And even though the pain of the loss never goes away, sometimes something good can come even from the worst of circumstances. Such is the case with the Friends Forever Golf Tournament, held the first Saturday in August at Hickory Stick Golf Club in Greenwood.

Mary Lou Habicht and Dianna Alexander

Mary Lou Habicht and Dianna Alexander (mothers of Nic Habicht and Joseph Alexander) ready to greet golfers at the 2011 event.

In 2004, Nic Habicht, Joseph Alexander, Jacob Surface, and Paul Dayment, all Center Grove High School graduates and students at IU in Bloomington, were living in an off-campus house looking forward to attending classes during the summer quarter. Habicht had just completed his sophomore year and decided to change his major. The other boys had just completed their junior years.

On May 22, the boys woke up to the smell of smoke. The house was an older two-story house and had only one exit in the front. (The back door had been removed by the owner and the house remodeled to make another bedroom.) There was a smoke detector, but no carbon monoxide detector. Habicht called 9-1-1, but by the time the fire department arrived, it was too late. Dayment was the only one to survive. It was later determined that an electrical fire started in the living room.

They were friends in life, and now they are friends forever. Thus, the Friends Forever Memorial Golf Classic was launched in August, 2004. All funds raised from the event stay within the Center Grove Community. Each year, three $1,000 scholarships are given to Center Grove High School graduates attending IU Bloomington; funds are also donated to the White River, Bargersville, Greenwood, and Bloomington fire departments for education, training, and equipment. The event also supports the White River Fire Department’s toy and clothing drive at Christmas and local food banks. Finally, the Friends Forever Golf Outing purchases and gives carbon monoxide detectors to students heading off to college for their room, apartment, or house. In the previous seven years of the event, more than $100,000 has been raised and distributed to local charities. Scholarships totaling $19,000 have been awarded to Center Grove High School graduates attending IU; $43,000 has been given to local and Bloomington fire departments; $3,000 has been given to the Christmas Angels program through the White River Township Fire Department; $5,500 has been used to purchase carbon monoxide detectors; $1,500 has been designated for local food pantries; and $5,000 has been given to Arms of Life for the railroad crossing upgrades in memory of Jake and Travis Findley.

Carts Lined Up

Nearly 200 golfers lined up in their carts ready for the shotgun start.

“The Golf Classic is a way to remember the boys each year,” says Mary Lou Habicht, Nic’s mother. “It’s like a big family reunion. Every year, more people come. We even had one young man plan his wedding for the week after the golf outing so he could participate and then get married the following Saturday.” Participants for the tournament come from as far away as California, Texas, North Carolina, and New York, all to play and pay tribute to the three boys who died tragically in a house fire. “It’s draining but rewarding all at the same time,” says Mrs. Habicht. This year’s event is the eighth annual and due to the popularity, there are two start times. “We’ve had more than 200 golfers participate. It’s an all-day event.” Mrs. Habicht adds.

Mark Hart with Twinkies

White River Township Fireman Mark Hart with Twinkies. “Twinkies were Nic’s favorite snack,” says Mrs. Habicht. “Hostess donates 300 boxes to the event each year and we leave them on the tables for everyone to enjoy.”

Brett Neely and Andy Groves

Golfers Brett Neely and Andy Groves in their cart waiting to start.

The Friends Forever Golf Classic is scheduled for Saturday, August 4, at Hickory Stick Golf Club (www.hickorystickgolf.com) in Greenwood. The entry fee is $80 per golfer or $320 for a foursome. Due to the high demand, this year there are two flights which will be filled on a first paid, first served basis. The first shotgun start at 8 a.m. is limited to the first 23 four-person teams. The 1:30 p.m. shotgun start is limited to the first 27 four-person teams. The entry fee includes 18 holes of golf, gift bag, golf cart rental, driving range, and lunch. Awards and door prizes will be available after each round.

Sponsorship registrations are being accepted through July 21, starting at $100 for a hole sponsor; $250 as a contest sponsor; $500 for beverage cart or birdie sponsor; and $1,000 as a corporate sponsor. Local businesses may also contribute items for gift bags and the door prizes. The Friends Forever Memorial Golf Classic thanks its continuing sponsorship from Davis Family Dentistry, Sabco Signs, Hickory Stick Golf Club, the Sertoma Club of Greenwood, and food sponsors – Marsh, Hampton’s Hostess, and O’Charley’s.

Presentation of Donations

Dianna Alexander, Mary Lou Habicht, Marv Habicht, Angela Buchman from WISH-TV, White River Township Firemen Craig Zollars and Mark Hart after presentations of donations to the White River Fire Department.

The Habichts are continuing the healing process and have begun reaching out to parents in similar situations on a regular basis. “My husband attends a support group for men who have lost a child,” says Mrs. Habicht. “They meet at 7 a.m. on Thursdays at the Denny’s Restaurant on Main Street in Greenwood. I have started a group for mothers who’ve lost a child. We meet once a month at various local restaurants.”

For more information about the Friends Forever Memorial Golf Classic or the support groups, e-mail your contact information to friendsforevergolf@gmail.com. Registration for the Golf Classic is available on the website: www.friendsforevergolf.com.

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