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Bruce Pearl's Fore the Children Golf Classic helps kids enjoy 'the best thing in their life'
In its fifth year, Bruce Pearl's Fore the Children Golf Classic has raised approximately $1 million for Children's Harbor. Photo: Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics.
In its fifth year, Bruce Pearl's Fore the Children Golf Classic has raised approximately $1 million for Children's Harbor. Photo: Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics.
May 21, 2018

By Jeff Shearer

ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. - Speaking to young people who have benefited from Bruce Pearl's Fore the Children Golf Classic confirmed for Auburn's men's basketball coach that he and his wife, Brandy, chose wisely when they partnered with Children's Harbor.

"We met some of the campers, including some students at Auburn," Pearl said Monday at Willow Point Golf and Country Club on Lake Martin. "They were explaining, this was the best thing in their life, period."

This year, Children's Harbor will donate its Lake Martin campus to 30 organizations, serving 4,600 children with chronic illnesses and their families, along with about 24,000 people at its family center at Children's Hospital.

"Children's Harbor is completely dependent on the support of the community, and people like Bruce Pearl and his foundation," said Myrle Grate, CEO of Children's Harbor. "We would not be able to host all of the seriously ill children and families that we do at our camp down here at Lake Martin, and we wouldn't be able to support all of the children and families that we do in Birmingham through our family center. Children's Harbor would not exist if it weren't for people like Coach."

With support from 120 golfers and sponsors Alabama Power, Russell Lands and Alfa Insurance, Pearl's fifth annual event brought the total donation to approximately $1 million.



"It's been a great charity and a great event." Pearl said.

'From here to there'

With a May 30 deadline looming for four Auburn players to let the NCAA know if they intend to remove their names from the NBA draft on June 21, Pearl fielded questions from reporters and tournament participants about the process.

"It's almost more about retention than it is about recruiting," Pearl said, mentioning that Austin Wiley, Mustapha Heron, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper have performed well in workouts for NBA teams. "They're gathering information. It's really hard to get into the first round where there's guaranteed money.

"They're all going to consider coming back. There's a chance they could all come back. As we get closer to the deadline, and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in [the draft]."

Pearl embraced the uncertainty that accompanies four players who may or may not return.

"What's our mission? Our mission is to get our student-athletes from here to there," he said. "It's my job to try to help those guys get their degrees and have an opportunity to play professional basketball.

"Focus on the individual. It's not time to worry about the team. It's time to worry about them and what they're doing, help them realize those individual goals."

Auburn has recruited accordingly, Pearl said, with contingency plans for each scenario, including possibly more minutes for Samir Doughty, Malik Dunbar and the Tigers' frontcourt of Horace Spencer, Chuma Okeke and Anfernee McLemore.

'As proud of as our championship'

Pearl compared Auburn's recent NCAA Public Recognition Award for academic progress to the regular season SEC banner the Tigers earned last season.

"To be recognized in the top 10 percent in the NCAA in men's basketball with our APR, it takes a village," Pearl said. "I'm talking about student-athletes, their families, my coaching staff, faculty, staff, support services, Courtney Gage. It takes an army of support, discipline and accountability in having 18 guys graduated.

"It is absolutely something that I am as proud of as our championship this year, and as hard to do. Really pleased with all that. Now, we've just got to continue to build on it."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:

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