Former players team up to live beyond themselves
17-year veteran Reggie Sanders hosts charity golf tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- More than a dozen former Major League Baseball players were among approximately 30 athletes who participated in a charity golf tournament and affiliated events over two days, raising money for a few worthwhile causes and brightening the lives of some special needs individuals.
The second annual 2LiveBeyond Celebrity Golf Tournament was held May 30 at the Members Club at Grande Dunes. Former MLB players who participated included six-time All-Star Bobby Bonilla, power-hitting outfielder George Foster of the Cincinnati Reds' Big Red Machine teams, and several former pitchers including Russ Ortiz, Tom Hume and Jim Perry.
The tournament is hosted by retired 17-year MLB outfielder Reggie Sanders and retired nine-year National Football League wide receiver Andre Davis, who both now live in Myrtle Beach, and benefits charities they are affiliated with.
The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association assisted tournament organizers in securing the participation of former MLB players, and numerous former NFL players also participated.
The 2LiveBeyond event includes a concert and pairings party with live and silent auctions at the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach on the eve of the tournament.
The motto of the 2LiveBeyond initiative is "to live beyond ourselves so others can dream beyond their circumstances," and the event benefits the Grand Strand Miracle League, which provides activities and sports for individuals with special needs, the Reggie Sanders Foundation and Africa New Life Ministries.
Davis said Africa New Life Ministries, based in Rwanda, is caring for, feeding, clothing and educating more than 6,000 children. Tournament proceeds will help build a health clinic there.
Sanders' foundation focuses on assisting children with autism and their families in the greater Pee Dee and Grand Strand areas, and works with SOS Healthcare and its Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapists to detect autism and assist families. Sanders has an autistic brother.
Bonilla, who was a teammate of Sanders on a playoff team in Atlanta, was invited for the inaugural event in 2014, but he had a prior commitment related to amateur baseball and couldn't attend.
"I'm just glad I got a phone call from Reggie. He really has a great heart," Bonilla said. "He does some phenomenal things in the community, which you've got to be really proud of. He's really diving into it and making a big difference, so I'm happy for him. Reggie's a special individual."
The live auction included vacations and signed and framed jerseys of athletes including Derek Jeter, Joe Montana and Steph Curry and raised approximately $50,000.
"I thought it was a phenomenal effort on everybody's part to have such a successful auction," said Bonilla, who purchased a vacation package at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas at the auction that he plans to use with his family.
Athletes played in the 2LiveBeyond tournament with four-person amateur teams. The entry fee was $1,500 per player or $5,000 per team, and the tournament was sold out with approximately 30 teams. Up to 750 spectators were allowed the tournament at either $25 for general admission tickets or $100 for VIP tickets.
Sanders said the tournament raised approximately $80,000 in 2014, with 45 percent going to the Reggie Sanders Foundation, 45 percent to Africa New Life Ministries and 10 percent to the Miracle League. The donation percentages are the same in 2015, and proceeds are expected to exceed 2014 numbers.
"Typically when you do a first event you're in the red, so we were able to not be in the red, which was a blessing," Sanders said.
Though it's not part of the fundraising activities, a highlight for many of the athletes is a baseball game the day before the golf tournament at the Miracle League field, during which celebrity athletes partner with a Miracle League participant for the game.
"I do it because I know I'm blessed, my family is blessed, my kids are blessed, and I want to give blessings to kids who have challenges," said World Series-winning second baseman Tony Womack. "They are still blessed. God created them. We're all different. Just because they don't have what we have on an everyday basis, it doesn't mean they can't be blessed."
Womack's playing partner was a particularly active young girl who kept him on his toes for the duration of the game.
"If you don't take something out of it, you didn't do it right and didn't interact with them. You've got to take something out of it," Womack said. "My girl ... she had my hamstrings working because all she wanted to do was run around and I chased her. That's the interaction. That's the whole thing. She needed somebody to keep up with her and that was me."