Parker Memorial Aug. 2

Published 7:13 am Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Brian Parker Invitational will be held Aug. 2 at Indian Lake Hills Golf Course near Eau Claire. (Leader photo/File)

The Brian Parker Invitational will be held Aug. 2 at Indian Lake Hills Golf Course near Eau Claire. (Leader photo/File)

Thirty-five years ago, 14-year-old Brian Parker lost a hard-fought battle with leukemia.

“He was really a very courageous and amazing kid,” said friend and classmate Marsie Smith.

Two years later, Brian’s parents Dick and Judy Parker decided to thank the community that helped their son during his 17-month battle with the disease that eventually took his life.

“The community helped us, so we felt like we should give back,” Judy said.

So, with 16 teams, the first ever Brian Parker Memorial Foundation Golf Outing was hosted in August 1982. That event raised $500. In the 33 years since, the event has grown beyond what anyone could have imagined at the time.

Last year, there were 420 golfers, and the foundation was able to pay out nearly $70,000 in donations. These donations went to several different worthy causes, including medical programs at the University of Michigan, Notre Dame and Indiana University. There were also donations to Niles, Buchanan and Brandywine school systems, as well as to Lakeland Hospital and directly to cancer patients.

This year, the tournament will be Aug. 2, at Indian Lake Hills Golf Course. The tournament will be able to host 54 four-person teams, and the cost is $60 per player. The fee covers greens fees, carts and a meal. Golfers will begin with shotgun starts at 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The morning tee time is already full, but there is still a limited amount of room for the afternoon tee time.

Indian Lake Hills Golf Course is located at 55321 Brush Lake Road in Eau Claire.

Judy said that, although the tournament is a lot of work, the money raised funds the majority of the foundation’s work.

“It’s a long day,” Judy said. “But at the end of the day, we just put our feet up and say, ‘Wow.’”

Budweiser furnishes all of the drinks, and Subway furnishes around 900 cookies — made fresh that morning, so that they are still warm for the golfers.

“It’s things like that that reinforce the fact that the community supports us,” Judy said.

Judy explained that many of the golfers are people who went to school with Brian, and some are even nurses that helped Brian while he was sick.

“Some of the kids that went to school with Brian are there with their kids,” she said.

Marsie expanded on the impact that Brian had on those around him.

“To date,” she said. “He has over 20 kids named after him, including my own daughter, Brianne.”

While there are other fundraisers throughout the year, including a basketball benefit at Brandywine and a picture sale by Niles New Tech, the golf outing is by far the largest event for the foundation.

Marsie summarized the fundraising efforts of Judy and Dick Parker.

“They took an unimaginable tragedy — the loss of their child — and turned it into an opportunity to help others.”