WOONSOCKET — More than $1.3 million generated by this summer's CVS/Caremark Charity Classic found its target yesterday as the company handed out checks to dozens of nonprofits in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
CVS/Caremark CEO Tom Ryan, and the co-hosts of the tournament, homegrown golf pros Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade, announced the figure during a ceremony at the pharmacy giant's headquarters.
“It really makes a difference, and it's meaningful, that we give the checks out at this time of year,” Ryan said. “I said this last year – people needed it more than ever last year, but people need it more than ever this year.”
The proceeds from the 12th annual installment of the two-day charity fundraiser, held in June at the Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington, pushed the total since its inception past the $14 million mark, Ryan said.
The CVS/Caremark Charity Classic is the state's largest charitable sporting event, hosting some of the top names in the PGA and the LPGA. This year, the funds will be distributed to 62 non-profit organizations that support the homeless, the hungry, the handicapped – and an assortment of other noble causes – throughout southeastern New England
The recipients include such household names as the American Red Cross, Bradley Children's Hospital, March of Dimes Rhode Island Chapter, Sojourner House, Save the Bay, Special Olympics Rhode Island and Tides Family Services.
But many are less well-known, like Autism Project of Rhode Island, a Johnston-based organization that serves many children from the Woonsocket area.
“It's very important,” says Joanne Quinn, the director. “Without CVS's support, we wouldn't be able to run our summer camp. Medicaid doesn't pay for it. Insurance doesn't pay for it.”
Andrew R. Schiff, director of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, happily ripped open an envelope that contained a check for $25,000. He said the money represents a badly needed boost at a time of year when demand is up and donations of food from farmers and community gardens is at a seasonal low.
“This is a huge help at a critical time,” said Schiff. “We have unprecedented demand for food assistance across Rhode Island. Two years ago, when were were serving a record 37,000 people a month, we thought that was ridiculous. Now we're serving 55,000 people a
month. We're really dependent on donations like these to meet our demand for food.”
Bruce Rutter of the American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter called the donation “a welcome relief” at this time of year, when the organization's resources are typically stretched thin by a seasonal upswing in house fires. To make matters worse, he said, “many families who are struggling to make ends meet are doubling and tripling up in apartments and houses to save money.
“As a result, the consequences of many of the fires we're responding to are more devastating – affecting a far greater number of people than usual and forcing us to consume resources quicker.”
Ryan said the success of the CVS/Caremark Charity Classic owes much to the company's loyal corporate suppliers, scores of volunteers, the golfers who participate and especially Faxon and Andrade.
“They're really ambassadors not just for golf, but for our state and our community,” said Ryan.
He said the proprietors of the Rhode Island Country Club also deserve kudos for making the course available for charitable causes in the prime of a short season, and he credited IBM, Pepsi and Nature's Bounty for serving as presenting sponsors for the 2010 installment of the tournament.
Andrade and Faxon traded jokes about maybe winning the tournament someday.
“We play, we have fun, but this is the best time of the tournament,” said Andrade. “Now we have an opportunity to give out these funds to all the organizations that need it.”
Faxon said there are other charity golf tournaments in the country, but the CVS/Caremark Charity Classic raises more money in two days than some of the others do in four.
“We're crushing them in the amount we give to charity,” Faxon said.
And as far as he knows, it's the only one where the pro golfers who are competing in the tourney are some of the same people writing checks for charity during the fundraising auction segment of the event.
“We don't just invite some of the best players in the world,” said Faxon. “We invite some of the best people.”
Some of the names who've participated in the event over the years range from Hall of Famers such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Juli Inkster and Nick Price to rising stars such as Camilo Villegas, Natalie Gulbis, Boo Weekley and Morgan Pressel. The tournament is currently limited to 10 two-person teams who compete for a purse of about $1.5 million.
The 2010 champs were J.B. Holmes and Ricky Barnes, who finished with a combined 16-under-par score of 126.
Plans are already in the works for the 2011 installment of the tournament, which will take place June 19-21. As is the norm for the holiday giving ritual, Andrade and Faxon announced the date at the end of the distribution ceremony.