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The morning of February 16, as Bob Bare prepared to participate in the fourth annual St. Jude Bo Jackson Shootout, he found something unexpected: the St. Jude prayer card his father had given him years before.
“My father taught me to pray to St. Jude,” Bare explained. “He was my patron saint growing up.”
The unexpected appearance of a prayer card he thought lost years before inspired Bare, before the day was through, to make an amazing donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
For the past 21 years, Gary and Bill Rotella have organized and hosted charity golf classics for St. Jude. This year, they co-chaired the St. Jude Bo Jackson Shootout at the Woodlands Country Club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The event is considered the premier one-day scramble in South Florida. As he has since the tourney’s inception, Bo Jackson, former pro-football and baseball star, hosted the shootout as well as the post-play dinner program and auctions.
The weather for the day’s event, which hosted 64 foursomes, was unusually cold and rainy, but did not deter the golfers. The weather certainly didn’t dampen the games of Bare and Wayne Bassett, who each hit surprise hole-in-ones on a par three hole, resulting in both men winning new cars. Bare won a 2007 Corvette from Ed Morse Chevrolet, and Bassett won a 2007 BMW Z4 from Vista Motors.
During the live auction that followed, Bare told the assembled crowd about finding the prayer card. Devotion to St. Jude, he believed, had won him the Corvette. To the delight and surprise of the audience, Bare donated his prize automobile, worth $54,000, back to St. Jude.
“Bob Bare epitomizes the commitment we all have for this great cause,” said Gary Rotella. As if to prove it, United Automobile Insurance Group (UAIG), the event’s signature sponsor, had its own surprise donation.
Beau Parrillo, executive vice president of UAIG, revealed that the organization would not only double its signature sponsorship to $100,000, but also provide St. Jude patients with access to flights on UAIG aircraft and ground transportation. “We will do whatever we can to save these children,” said Parrillo.
Live auction items included trips to the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and the Super Bowl, as well as a day of golfing with Bo Jackson in his hometown of Chicago. All told, this year’s event raised $450,000 for the kids of St. Jude.