Whether it’s for the experience, the love of the game or the opportunity to see the pros play in person, one primary driver for many Regions Tradition volunteers is the same: the chance to support the tournament’s primary beneficiary, Children’s of Alabama.
“I’ve often said one of the things about Children’s of Alabama is you never know when you’re going to need it, but when you do, you’re doggone glad it’s there,” said Legacy volunteer David McElroy, who has been with the tournament since its start in 1992. Today, McElroy co-chairs the Walking Scorers committee. But 29 years ago, his world was changed when his daughter, Amy, was born six weeks early, with numerous health issues.
“She’s had 38 surgeries over the years at Children’s. She’s now 29 years old and living independently in Seattle, Washington, thanks to Children’s,” McElroy said. “There’s no better hospital in the world. I’m very, very excited to see what things continue to happen with Children’s Hospital, and that’s why I volunteer.”
Fellow long-term volunteer James Ingram has also been with the tournament since the beginning. After his job moved him from Alabama to Washington, D.C., four years ago, he decided it was worth it to travel to continue to take part in the annual event.
“I’ve got a passion for golf, and I enjoy being part of a project that contributes to such a worthy cause,” Ingram explained. “Children’s plays such an important role, not only in the immediate area, but in the state. And even though I don’t live here anymore, I think it’s important they receive the support so they can continue doing all the great work they do.”
Ingram says volunteering at an event like this after two decades has presented other benefits, too.
“There are a lot of folks who enjoy the volunteer experience and getting together for a week. You see a lot of familiar faces – it’s sort of like getting the band back together every year. It’s a lot of fun,” Ingram, who is currently co-chairing the Players Locker Room committee, explained. “Being a golf fan since my dad got me started at 12 years old, I grew up watching these great players on TV. Getting to interact and know them over the years has been really rewarding, so I just enjoy my experience so much.”
Getting out on the course for the first time this year is rookie volunteer Felecia Julian, a hole marshal on the 11th green.
“It has been very nice, such a blast,” Julian said. “It’s been so much more than what I expected.”
Julian adds that as a sports fan, volunteering with the Regions Tradition is a worthwhile endeavor for so many reasons. “I would recommend this to others because it’s more than just volunteering or chasing balls. You get to see the community, you get to see celebrities, you get to understand the game of golf, and you get to be out in nature. It’s just gorgeous.”
Julian, Ingram and McElroy are three out of the more than 1,000 volunteers who each play a vital role in the success of the Regions Tradition tournament. Many of these volunteers will continue to show up each year to do their part … some despite life’s circumstances.
McElroy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease almost a decade ago, but credits his ability to continue participating to staying active. This, of course, includes volunteering at local sporting events like the Regions Tradition.
When asked if he intends to continue volunteering, McElroy emphatically stated, “Absolutely. Why not? It’s the best job you’ll ever have.”