Golfers give kids a head start in life

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2001

Score one for the kids.

The foursome of Clayton Dolan, Billy Applewhite, Lorne Smagge and Butch Anderson combined for a 9-under 63 to take first place in the inaugural Johnny Monfor HeadStart Classic Saturday at the Kenai Golf Course, but the tournament was more about remembering a friend and making sure young children get a solid start on their education than it was about the competition.

"It's overwhelming to see how many people care about my husband and about the HeadStart program," said Chrissy Monfor. "He was very active in the Native community -- he lived in Kenai his whole life -- and last summer at the Kenaitze picnic, he talked with (HeadStart director) Connie Wirz. He was pretty excited. Sometimes those littler kids, you forget about them because you think they're taken care of."

Monfor's husband, for whom the tournament is named, died suddenly last fall. When the family was looking for something to do in lieu of flowers, Monfor said the Kenaitze HeadStart program was the first thing that came to mind.

The idea for a golf tournament was hatched shortly thereafter.

"My dad was an avid golfer," said Monfor's daughter, Shelley. "We thought, what a good way to benefit a cause he believed in. The day after the service, we decided we would start an annual golf tournament in his name to benefit the program."

HeadStart is a preschool program designed to give 3- and 4-year-old children determined to be at-risk a jump on the skills they'll need for kindergarten and elementary school.

The program currently services 40 children and will expand to include 67 children this fall, Wirz said.

"The proceeds from this will go to things that aren't in the budget," Wirz said. "We'll be able to expand our library and get some new playground equipment."

"As a parent with a child in the program, it's helped me out as a mom," said Michelle Varness. Varness works with HeadStart as a program aide and was on hand to help out at the tournament.

"There's a lot of supportive people that work there."

The tournament brought out friends of the Monfors and supporters of the HeadStart program, as well as some players who just wanted to get in a round of golf.

"I've known Johnny and Chrissy for years," said Trena Richardson. "I just wanted to show support for them. I got to play with people I've known for a long time. That was fun, even though we didn't tear up the golf course."

The winning foursome in the 18-hole scramble did tear up the course on their way to carding a 63.

"I just wanted to play some golf," Dolan said. "We had a good day. We started off with a bogey, but then we shot 10 birdies after that."

The Monfors would like to tournament to become an annual event, and Chrissy said she was overwhelmed by the participation the first time around. There were 39 golfers Saturday.

"It's mostly just a way to spend time with family and friends," Chrissy said. "If you knew Johnny, you could talk about the times you played with him.

"It's a good way to honor his memory, out on the course hitting as long as you can."

Johnny Monfor HeadStart Classic

Results -- Clayton Dolan, Billy Applewhite, Lorne Smagge, Butch Anderson 63; Craig Jung, Dale Sandahl, Tom Wagoner, Robb Salo 70; Jesse Wade, Tim Delaney, Bill Burtram, Susan Wells 70; Don Gilman, Art McComsey, Jerry May, Sue May 72; Rob Peterkin, Fletche McNair, Shawn Northam 72; Micah Johnson, Kellie Kvasnikoff, Dennis Gifford, Paula Crowley 73; Jim Fitzhenry, Andy Hanson, Christopher Monfor, Dillon Poage 73; Julie Perry, Ron Perry, Vicki Otte, Carl Marrs 74; Spence DeVito, Pat Malone, Gary David, Trena Richardson 80; Jennifer Dye, James Dye, Lee Halstead, Phylis Halstead 82.

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