Caddy For A Cure

Caddy For A Cure It started out as another normal day at the golf course back in 1993 for PGA Professional Russ Holden, who was still pursuing a dream of one day playing on tour as he worked at Woodfield Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, as the head golf teaching professional.

Chris Collins, a former Major League Baseball pitcher for the California Angels, who had recently undergone double Tommy John arm surgery ending his pitching career, stopped in to ask Holden if he knew of any jobs in the golf industry. He said he didn’t need much money but just wanted to start a new career. Holden and Collins, both Christian family men with a couple of sons each, hit it off right away. Holden gave Collins a job in the bag room, as that was the only position open. He was a bit overqualified, but God had a plan.

The relationship grew, and when Collins’ son Christian was born, the lives of both men would change forever. Christian was born with an inherited bone marrow disease called Fanconi Anemia. Holden says, “I knew right away that somehow, some way I needed to help my brother.”

Caddying for Master’s Champion Bernhard Langer
At Woodfield, Holden was blessed with an opportunity to start caddying, part time at first and then eventually full-time, with German Master’s Champion, Bernhard Langer. “I always wanted to be a player on the Tour, but being a caddie was the next best thing, and being the assistant for one of the top golfers in the world was a true blessing,” says Holden.

Then in 1998, the Collins family gave birth to Calen, a second child now born with Fanconi Anemia. This thrust Russ’ prayers and dreams of how he could help the Collins’ into high gear. Bone marrow transplants were a necessity to give these young children any hope of staying alive.

Caddy For A Cure officially tees off in 2002
Founded in 2002, after several years of research and hard work, Russ and his wife, Colleen, started Caddy For A Cure and qualified for the 501-c-3 non profit designation. Taking the mission and vision on the road, Russ quickly got the support of the PGA Tour players to work alongside them to help raise awareness and funds for Fanconi Anemia.

“While I was caddying with Bernhard Langer, I realized that people would love to trade places with me. So we built this model as a way for people to live out their golf fantasies inside the ropes while donating to a great cause and spending a day on the course with names like Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson and even Tiger Woods.”

Christian Collins becomes National Spokesperson for CFAC
While Christian Collins, the spark that drove Holden’s passion to make a difference, is doing well as a healthy now-21 year old, there are many others who have lost their fight with Fanconi Anemia or who are still struggling. Collins is now proudly serving as the National Spokesperson for Caddy For A Cure, traveling frequently on the PGA Tour and spreading the word about Fanconi Anemia, as well as the other charities that the program now helps. After successful bone marrow transplants, Christian and his younger brother, Calen, are now both active at CFAC Fundraising golf tournaments.

Wounded Warriors go inside the ropes with CFAC
In 2005, another chord struck the heart of Russ Holden while in San Antonio, Texas, when he saw the Wounded Warriors being escorted down the 18th green. “This was a hallmark achievement, and my love for the military and our great country lead me to reach out and bring the Wounded Warriors a chance to enjoy a day of golf and partner with Caddy for a Cure.”

Birdies for the Brave became another charity in 2011 reaping the rewards as a partner program for Caddy For A Cure. “Through this great game of golf, we have been able to partner with many outstanding military organizations, including the Navy Blue Angels Foundation, and support warriors on various levels. Contributing to Birdies for the Brave as one of our core charities is a perfect fit, and we look forward to offering caddy experiences inside the ropes for members of our military,” says Holden.

7th Annual Fundraising Golf Tournament set for Parkland in December
On Monday, December 9, the 7th Annual Caddy For A Cure fundraising golf tournament in support of our wounded military, children and families facing serious illness and life threatening diseases will take place at Parkland Golf Club as part of the Liberty Mutual Invitational. National Spokesmen, Christian Collins and brother Calen – affectionately nicknamed “Batman and Robin” – will be on hand, as well as many Wounded Warriors. The day will also include a presentation by Sergeant Timothy Bohall of American Fallen Soldiers.

Since its inception over 12 years ago, over $1.5 million has been raised for various charities, with the vision to keep expanding and growing events. Several sponsors, including Callaway Golf, Sharpie, Jet Blue, Emerick Construction, and others, have stepped up to show their support. Corporate packages are available online, along with auctions for upcoming caddying events with the PGA Tour’s best at caddyforacure.com.

“It continues to amaze and humble me that the program we dreamed about 12 years ago as a way to help fight the horrible disease of Fanconi Anemia and to support our U.S. Military is alive and thriving,” concludes Holden.

Carl Foster is the marketing executive/event manager with the Good News of Florida and Blackstone Media Group. To contact him, please email him at [email protected]

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