Downpours, thunder and lightning traveled through the area in the early morning hours Thursday, but the skies cleared and the sun came out just in time to be a beautiful day for the eighth annual Pfc. Adam Lee Marion Memorial Golf Tournament.
Dozens of volunteers assisted monitoring prize-winning holes, getting refreshments to players and being available for other tasks as needed throughout the day, while two flights of golfers totaling 248 players took to the course at Cedarbrook Country Club, half teeing off at 8 a.m. and the others at 1 p.m.
Volunteers and the family of Marion, who was killed in Iraq on April 28, 2008, while serving in the military, were at the golf course by 4:30 a.m. getting set up for the day-long event, but Pam Marion, Adam’s mother, said the rain had quit by 7 a.m. when registration began.
Pam said she wasn’t afraid of the morning’s weather though. “I just knew it was going to be a good day,” she said, although she was a little concerned when at 10 minutes until 8, they were still missing four of their teams. But they showed up, and the golfers hit the course by about 8:10 a.m.
“This is the first time, [the tournament] actually fell on Adam’s actual day of death,” said Pam. “Donnie [Adam’s father] and I always spent the day together to honor Adam, whether here at the golf course or somewhere else. We always spend time together as a family,” she said.
Typically, the day involves visiting Adam’s grave at the cemetery. Another annual activity is changing the flag on the flag pole erected at the Marions’ home. “When Adam died, we got a tremendous amount of flowers. We’d always wanted a flag pole, and we got so many flowers so we decided to do a flower garden and flag pole,” she explained, adding that the space holds a monument honoring Adam as well.
“We talk about him every day. There is always something that comes up to make you think about Adam.”
The couple also spends time with their daughter and son-in-law and two grandchildren as a family sharing stories about Adam and making sure Adam is remembered.
Pam said the loss of Adam “is still as real today as it was eight years ago. Things like that never get easier.”
When the news first arrived of what had happened to Adam, she said, “We were totally just shocked, blown away. We prayed every night for Adam, for our military. We never thought anything would happen to Adam. You never think it will happen to you.
“The peace I have is I know where he’s at, and he’s happy and good, and one day, we’ll get to see him again.”
The golf tournament is one way to continue remembering Adam, said Pam. “I think that’s one of the ways to deal with the tragedy, is to continue to talk about Adam, to laugh, to cry, to share stories. People come here and share stories with us about Adam that we didn’t know.
“I think everybody here who has played in the past feels connected to our family. I always had fear that in time people would forget about him and the sacrifice he made. If we continue to do the tournament and share stories about him, maybe nobody will forget.
“That’s my belief, as long as we continue to talk about him and have the tournament, people will remember him and honor him and support the children’s center that was special to him”
The Marions make a point to try to talk to everyone who comes out for the tournament, which is a benefit for the Children’s Center of Surry and Yadkin, where Adam volunteered and worked for a time.
“I think he would be proud of the work being done.”
The tournament fills up every year, and Pam said there is a waiting list of teams and individuals wanting to play. But she said, it’s not about the game. “It’s not about the golf, they are not playing to win. They’ll tell you they are here for Adam and the children’s center.”
This year, the tournament is expected to bring in $70,000, and since its first year in 2009, it has raised $350,000 for the children’s center.
Robin Testerman, director for the children’s center, said most grants the organization receives are restricted in their uses. “Ninety percent of the grants won’t let us charge for the space, so there is no way to pay our loans and facility expenses,” she explained. “This is a miracle blessing. It all goes to our facilities and operations of facilities.”
Monies from the tournament have helped pay loans, provide new roofing and flooring, fund the main office and parenting classroom areas. The children’s center operates five facilities — a home in Surry and one in Yadkin, as well as the offices near the old Lighthouse restaurant in Dobson, and two other small satellite offices.
“We wouldn’t be able to have the infrastructure to grow without the tournament,” Testerman said.
“I thought this was a one time generous blessing and gift,” she said, adding she never thought it’d still be going strong eight years later. She credited the dedication of the tournament committee, the community and Adam’s family for its success.
The children served by the center come from one of three scenarios, she explained. Some are placed there by the Department of Social Services because they don’t have a safe place to live; some are placed through the Department of Juvenile Justice because they have a hard home situation which may be leading to them acting out or running away; and they also can be placed there by parents who may need a short up-to-10-day respite in a crisis situation.
“We’ve had a young lady recently who has been with us five years. We helped her through school, get a car, get a job, and provide her with leadership skills,” Testerman said of one of many success stories she could tell.
She said the tournament is a “beautiful blend of giving to your community and giving to your military,” with red, white and blue seen all over the course, from the hole sponsor signs to an American flag at the top of one of the hole markers.
“It just amazes me this group can be so selfless and impact what they do for these children and their lives,” Testerman said.
The event sponsors for this year’s tournament included Coram Construction, Window World, Commercial Air Systems and In Loving Memory of J.D. Bartley, with golf carts provided by T-N-T Carports and lunch by Carolina Carports.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.