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Golf tourney to feature NFL player

Pittsburgh Steelers’ tight end Weslye Saunders comes to Washington Friday to lend a little star power to the Boys and Girls Club golf tournament.

Saunders is donating his time to greet participants at the 16th-annual fundraiser at the Washington Yacht & Country Club because of his own relationship to the Boys and Girls Club and how it made an impact on him.

“As a child growing up in Gary, Ind., the Boys and Girls Club was an important part of my life,” said Saunders in a written statement. “I take it as an honor and a privilege to be invited to participate in the support of this organization.”

The golf tournament is the Boys and Girls Club’s major fundraising event each year, and is expected to, and often does, meet the club’s annual fundraising goal of $25,000 through general sponsorships, as well as sponsorships of each four-person team.

“Most of the sponsors that we have, have been supporting the tournament for years,” said Walter Lanham, marketing director for the Washington and Belhaven units of the Boys and Girls Club. “Wells Fargo, First South Bank, PotashCorp — I think they’ve been in it since the first one we did 16 years ago. We’re just thankful we have their support.”

The four-person teams will begin teeing off at 11 a.m. Friday morning. Up until that time, late registrants are welcome. The cost is $70 per person, $280 for a team. For that fee players are treated to a round of golf, a catered meal and gift bags filled with donated golf-related items.

Tournament winners will receive trophies and those who claim titles such as “longest drive” and “best putt” of the tournament, among other notable plays, will take home prizes.

“As of now, we have 18 teams signed up,” said Lanham. “We plan on having more. We’d like to see 100 people out there playing.”

On any given day after school the Boys and Girls Club locations in Washington and Belhaven serve between 60 and 75 kids. There they do any homework they have during “power hour,” sometimes with the assistance of tutors, before they get moving — playing basketball, learning new sports, like golf. Computer classes, art classes, mentoring are some of the other services provided.

The money raised through the golf tournament is the main support of the Beaufort County clubs and with celebrity draw like Saunders, Lanham is hoping to attract the big crowds.

The 23-year-old Saunders graduated from Riverside High School in Durham and played college ball at University of South Carolina. 2012 will mark his second NFL season.

For more information about the Boys and Girls Club golf tournament, visit www.bgcbcnc.org or call 252-975-9311.