WARSAW – It wasn’t a conventional fundraiser. But the two pups sitting in the parking lot at Rozella Ford Golf Club didn’t mind one bit.
The Animal Welfare League of Warsaw (AWL) set up for a promotional stop at the golf course on Saturday to help raise funds for its new building campaign. The new structure, which is about 75 percent complete on the east side of Warsaw on US 30, is going to take a little bit to get to its final goal, but a member of the community offered to help in a unique way.
Ryan Slone, avid golfer and supporter of the AWL, stopped by the current facility and asked if he could help. His brainstorm idea was to golf 100 holes at Rozella and take donations and pledges as part of what they eventually dubbed as the Putts 4 Pets golf marathon and awareness event.
Slone, donned in all pink Saturday morning and riding with his fiancé, Gintry, went above and beyond the initial expectation. Through three rounds, Slone wasn’t just rushing through the golf course to achieve the established goal. For someone who loves golf, Slone fired 18-hole rounds of 67, 69 and 68 on a relatively quiet course as the threat of rain likely played a deterrent to the light traffic. Slone took a moment to speak about his involvement in the event after completing par on the 12th hole in his fourth round.
“I’ve done this in the past for autism, but putting together a full golf outing with so many moving parts is difficult,” Slone said. “It takes so much money up front for it, and not much on return. So we took a shot at this to see how it goes.”
Slone had done a fair share of fundraising, and was promised by at least one local business they would pledge $10 for every hole he played above 100. All told, Slone was able to finish 114 holes before rain made Rozella too wet to continue. In total, the AWL was able to take in $1,508 in pledges, and over $1,500 in cash and Facebook donations. The AWL has a matching grant that will push the total in excess of $6,000. Donations made after the event will also qualify for the matching grant.
“I don’t think the shelter gets as much help as they need, and I’ve had pets ever since I can remember, and it was our time to give back a little bit,” Slone said, who finished out his final three rounds at 70, 71 and 69 and was working on a seventh round at 22 through six holes before coming off the course. “I figure, why not try to play a little golf and raise a little money. I mean, I would be out here anyways playing golf, so it worked out for everybody involved.”
Back at the clubhouse, AWL spokesperson Katey Zemen was holding down the welcome table. With the AWL representatives were a pair of friendly and furry pals, a show of what type of pet can be had from the AWL. Zemen noted she was hoping the outing could generate around $1,000, but an anonymous donor had pledged to match all the money brought in, which would double the total. Her expectations were well exceeded.
“This was all Ryan’s idea,” Zemen said. “As he worked it out in his head, he mentioned that he could try to play 100 holes of golf. We realized that as we went along in the process, raising money for the shelter just made the most sense. We’ve needed a new building for the shelter for over 10 years now. We’re 75 percent of the way there for the building and Ryan has been a part of that, and this is no different. He’s just busting his hump trying to make this happen to bring awareness for the AWL and he’s become one of the best friends of the shelter we have.”
The new AWL facility will cost in upwards of $2.3 million, and while the Putts 4 Pets campaign may seem like a drop in the golf cup, the community support and the money does make a difference.
“It would just be easy to hope that someone would come out and say, ‘how much do you need and let me write you a check for it.’ But that’s not realistic. If we get a single donation, it all goes to the AWL the same. We have an anonymous donor that’s matching, and we have pledges for Ryan. We just had to go in and see what happens.”