SHARK SHOOTOUT:


Tournament charity CureSearch takes center stage at Thursday dinner

Source: Naples Daily News 

December 11, 2009 (Naples, FL)  The Shark Shootout’s Thursday night dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort is usually emotional.

It’s when the tournament’s charity takes center stage. CureSearch, which supports the Children’s Oncology Group, has been the main beneficiary for nearly the entire 21 years of the Shootout.

Family members of children affected by cancer or the children themselves frequently are the guest speakers at the dinner. Their stories are heart-wrenching.

“That becomes a very touching moment because now it’s a reality,” tournament founder and host Greg Norman said. “And we’ve had some kids that have survived through the cancer sequence and others who haven’t, too. There’s some sad stories.”

This year’s was no different, but 20-year-old Sebastian Gillen’s speech left more than quite an impression. So much so on Norman that he asked for a copy afterward.

“It was one of the most moving speeches I’ve heard,” Shootout participant Steve Stricker said. “It was a great speech. “You feel bad that this has got to happen to any child. I guess we all look at the positive side, that everybody involved is here for that cause, for CureSearch, and it’s helping — the percentages of cured children are going up.

“That’s, I guess, the positive side, but it tears you apart knowing that something like that could happen to one of your kids or any kid for that matter.”

Part of what Gillen, who was treated for neuroblastoma, said in his speech is a portion of a piece running periodically on televisions across the tournament property.

“What is childhood cancer? Childhood cancer is not being able to play with your friends on the playground because your platelets are too low and your body can’t stop the bleeding.

“Childhood cancer is wearing a mask every time you go out in public because your immune system ...

“Childhood cancer is being an 8-year-old kid who’s terrified of needles and having to get stuck 15 times a day and not shed a single tear.

“Childhood cancer is losing your childhood, along with all of your hair.”

“Why does an 8-year-old girl have to run home and cry on her mother’s shoulder because her friends don’t understand the words chemotherapy, radiation treatment, or bone marrow transplant?”

As Stricker said, the percentages are getting better, but still, one in five children diagnosed with cancer dies, and three of the remaining four who survive will suffer from long-term side effects.

Since its inception, the Shootout has raised $11 million for charity.

- Greg Hardwig 

Christine Bork
Email Christine
(800) 458-6223



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