Wounded Warrior Golf tournament set

MANCHESTER - The dog days of summer have arrived, but before autumn is officially ushered in more than 100 people will hit the links at the Manchester Country Club for the Wounded Warrior golf tournament.

Now in its second year, the Wounded Warrior golf tournament - which will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 18 beginning at 12:30 p.m. - was started to raise awareness for the plight of the soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, according to one of the founders of the event, Don Keelan. Teams of four - each of which includes a wounded warrior - competes in a scramble format, which includes a shotgun start.

Last year 32 teams and 20 wounded warriors competed in the tournament. Those numbers have gone up slightly this year with 33 teams and 30 wounded warriors expected to compete in the tournament, Keelan said. Their presence is something that Bob Stearns, General Manager and Head Professional at the Manchester Country Club, is something that has a distinct impact on those that participate.

"I think the players themselves really enjoy getting to know somebody that, you know most of them are purple heart recipients; not all of them, but many of them. They're just incredible people," said Stearns. "It's a nice interaction. It's not like you just have your own team out there; you're interacting with one of the wounded warriors."

Stearns said the feedback from the wounded warriors has also been very positive with many conveying how much they enjoyed playing in the event. A dinner will be held after the tournament and during the night the 2013 Wounded Warriors Manchester Country Club Recognition Plaque - which is presented to an individual who has helped veterans - will be given out. This year's recipient will be Captain Zach Fike who is on active duty with the Vermont National Guard. He is also a wounded warrior and serves on the Wounded Warrior golf tournament committee.

Following last year's tournament, Keelan said $17,000 was donated to the Vermont Veterans Home, Dodge House and Open Street Mission in Rutland out of the proceeds from the event. This year, Keelan said he expects that number to be significantly higher.

"This year's fundraising is going to be quite substantial. I can't give the figure out right now because I don't know it, but it will be almost twice last year," said Keelan. "The fundraising will go to the Vermont Veterans Home Residents Activity Fund and another substantial portion will go to the Bennington Veterans Outreach Center."

While Keelan said he expects the amount of money they raise this year to be twice that of last year, he has also been impressed with the number of "in kind" donations, which have totaled $17,000.

Among the companies that have contributed have been The Orvis Company and Express Copy, which is located in Manchester. The Orvis Company donated 33 jackets to the event - one of which will be given to each wounded warrior - and Express Copy donated all the printing services for the event, Keelan said.

Plasan North America out of Bennington is the tournament sponsor and Keelan said that the event would not be successful as it has been without their assistance.

Prizes will be given out to any player that hits a hole in one on specific holes of the tournament. Carbone is offering a sedan for any player that hits a hole in one on the eighth green. Another prize is $500 in groceries from Price Chopper. Keelan said various gifts - including golf clubs and electronic equipment - will also be given away to anyone who hits a hole in one on any of the four par 3 holes on the course.

In addition to the dinner, the evening will also include the Presentation of Colors and a performance by the USO Liberty Bells. Colonel Allen Faxon will be the keynote speaker at the event.

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