Mariners host golf tourney to battle cystic fibrosis

Event has raised more than $5.5 million over 31-year run

June 28th, 2016
Charlie Furbush and Steve Cishek hosted the 31st annual golf tournament. (Ben Van Houten)Ben Van Houten

SEATTLE -- When Mariners closer Steve Cishek was in fourth grade, his friend Kevin Williamson developed a bad cough. Williamson started missing hockey games, despite his love for the sport.

"We didn't understand why," Cishek said. "We just knew he was sick."

Williamson passed away the next year due to cystic fibrosis, a progressive genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.

On Monday, Cishek got the chance to support cystic fibrosis research aimed at developing new therapies and finding a cure for the life-threatening disease. He co-hosted the 31st annual Mariners Care Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament alongside three-time host Charlie Furbush.

Established in 1986, the tournament raised $5.51 million in partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation prior to the event. The team estimated that they made $205,000 on Monday between the tournament and auction that took place following dinner. They will release the official numbers Tuesday.

When the Mariners asked Cishek if he would like to host last winter, the closer said it was an easy decision.

"It was nice to be able to think back and remember Kevin and his family," Cishek said. "I was just happy to help out."

Mike Montgomery and Wade Miley joined fellow pitchers Cishek and Furbush on the golf course. Manager Scott Servais and first-base coach Casey Candaele also participated.

"To see the guys out here continuing it on year after year, we're just super fortunate that they care so much," said Cystic Fibrosis Foundation spokesman Ladd Moore, who has been coming to the tournament since he was a child. "It really means a lot to the kids. There are tons of families affected by cystic fibrosis, and to watch big smiles on all the kids' faces is really, really fun."

Over 33,000 people in the United States are living with CF, and doctors diagnose about 1,000 new cases every year. In the Mariners Care tournament's inaugural year, the life expectancy of a person with CF was 14 years. Now it is up to 40 years.

"That's really encouraging," Cishek said. "And it's all because of what this foundation has done."

"I think everyone out here is going to enjoy the golf, but an even bigger cause is to raise money for cystic fibrosis," Furbush said. "Some of these kids go through so much, so anything we can do to help and make kids' lives last longer is really important to us. We're going to do everything we can to raise more money and hopefully cure this disease."