|By Courtney Llewellyn|
Reminder Assistant Editor
HAMPDEN For the fourth time in seven years, the Hampden Country Club will be the host of an important fundraising event, the Tony Tucker Fund's Golf4ALS tournament.
Tony Tucker, a former West Springfield native who now lives in Westminster, Mass., was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, in 1995.
ALS is a progressive, usually fatal, neurodegenerative disease caused by the degeneration of motor neurons, the nerve cells in the nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement, according to Wikipedia. The disorder causes muscle weakness and atrophy throughout the body and stops being able to send messages to muscles. The muscles gradually weaken, develop twitches because of denervation and eventually atrophy. The patient may ultimately lose the ability to initiate and control all voluntary movement except of the eyes.
Tucker's family members started to collect funds for general ALS research when he was first diagnosed, but in the past seven years, they've been raising funds specifically for the ALS Therapy Development Institute in Cambridge, Mass., through the fund established in his name.
"We are a group of volunteers friends and family of Tony Tucker who decided that we needed to do something to help find a cure for this debilitating disease that affects more people than most of us are aware," Linda Tucker, Tony's sister-in-law, said. To help raise funds in the search for that cure, they developed the Golf4ALS tournament.
"We're really not golfers," Linda said of her family, "but there's an opportunity to do a lot with [a golf tournament]. You can have a banquet afterward, with an auction and a raffle. If we had done a run, that would be it once they crossed the finish line."
In its first year, Golf4ALS had 90 golfers participate and Linda said her group is always aiming to find 144 interested golfers for the tournament, because that would be a full playing field. "We haven't quite reached that yet," she said.
The deadline to sign up for this year's tournament is Aug. 1. A donation of $110 will cover 18 holes of golf, greens fees, use of Hampden Country Club's facilities (like the locker rooms, showers and putting greens), gratuities, carts, a barbeque lunch, a sitdown dinner immediately following the golfing, featuring either a chicken, steak or vegetarian entree, free surprises and more. Dinner by itself will cost $30 per person.
This year's silent auction will feature a basketball signed by the Boston Celtics, a Dustin Pedroia-signed Boston Red Sox jersey, Red Sox tickets, a cruise and more; the raffle will offer a variety of prizes including gift cards and gift baskets.
Linda said the financial goal of the Golf4ALS tournament is simply to beat the amount they raised last year approximately $22,000.
"We have a lot of fun at the tournament," Linda said. "People are so nice. They know it's for a good cause and they're appreciative of what we do."
The seventh annual Golf4ALS tournament will be taking place Aug. 8 beginning at 9 a.m. To sign up as a golfer or for more information, visit the Tony Tucker Fund's Web site at www.golf4als.com.