ITF Scores Big in U.S. Charity Event
Ojai, California. The International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) co-hosted a successful charity golf event at California’s beautiful Ojai Valley Inn and Spa on Monday, March 10. The ITF and it’s U.S. partner, the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI), planned the “Legacy of Hope” golf tournament to benefit the war-torn country of Lebanon. The two tournament organizers announced that the proceeds from the event far exceeded their expectations, allowing them to achieve the event’s purpose: to pay for six mine-detection dogs that will be sent to Lebanon to team up with handlers assigned to the Lebanese National Demining Organization. More than $150,000 in proceeds were raised for the event, with additional contributions expected over the next few weeks.
The golf tournament and evening dinner, the first major fund-raising event for the ITF in the United States, was the brainchild of Pat Patierno, former Director of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs and now the ITF’s U.S. spokesman. Joining forces with MLI’s President, Perry Baltimore and with ITF Director, Goran Gacnik, the three were able to attract a number of U.S. corporations and celebrities to support this inaugural event. The title sponsor was the Partnership for Lebanon (PFL), a consortium of five major U.S. corporations committed to provide critically needed resources to assist reconstruction efforts in Lebanon and to help build a better life for the Lebanese people. PFL’s corporate founders are: Ghafari, Incorporated, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and Occidental Petroleum.
Five professional golfers from the U.S. Champions tour lent their time and humanitarian interest to the event. They were Jim Colbert, a winner of 32 events on both the Champions and PGA tours, former U.S. Amateur champion Jay Sigel, who has won eight-times on the senior circuit; six-time winner and former U.S. Senior Open Champion, Dave Eichelberger; Graham Marsh, winner of 65 professional events around the world; and Walter Hall, who has won over $6.5 million in his professional career.
Colbert, who served as the Master of Ceremonies for the dinner following the golf tournament, called the event’s purpose a “very worthy humanitarian cause” and said he and the other professional golfers were proud to be a part of the event.
Also contributing time and talent to the evening’s dinner was actor Michael O’Keefe, who starred in the role of Danny Noonan in the 1980 hit movie Caddyshack. More recently, O’Keefe starred in last year’s Academy-Award nominated film, Michael Clayton. O’Keefe, who was accompanied by fellow actor Meg Foster proved to be quite entertaining in his role as presenter of the trophies and other prizes awarded during the evening.
Lebanese singer Tony Khalife provided the evening’s entertainment, backed up by local musician Scott Smith and Croatian singer Julija Zonic, who now lives in the Ojai, California area.
His Excellency, Antoine Chedid, Ambassador of Lebanon to the United States, thanked the International Trust Fund and the Marshall Legacy Institute for their generous contributions to Lebanon’s demining program and expressed his strong wish for peace in the area and around the world.
The enormous success of this inaugural Legacy of Hope event has led the ITF and MLI to already begin planning for a second such tournament next year to benefit yet another mine-affected country.
The ITF will celebrate its 10tth anniversary next month with ceremonies in Ljubljana. Since its establishment, the ITF has managed more than $250 million on behalf of more than 100 donors, including 28 governments, to support mine action projects in 15 countries.