By Jeff Shearer
ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. - Before Bruce Pearl recruited his first basketball player at Auburn, he and his wife, Brandy, recruited a cause to support.
“We found Children’s Harbor and Children’s Harbor found us,” Pearl said.
Auburn’s basketball coach hosted his fourth Fore the Children Golf Classic Monday at Willow Point Golf and Country Club on Lake Martin, surpassing $800,000 raised for Children’s Harbor, which provides kids with serious illnesses and their families a place to relax while receiving no-cost services.
“We’re making a difference,” Pearl said. “It’s all about Auburn Family. It makes it so easy. Our friends who support us are here every year. We have a great time. We talk some basketball, and we make a difference for the kids.”
“Coach lending his name and his credibility to this event makes the event what it is,” said Myrle Grate, Children’s Harbor CEO. “It provides us our budget money for the year so that we can provide the support to the sick children and their families. If this event didn’t happen, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so we’re very thankful to Coach.”
Children’s Harbor donates its facilities to 26 non-profits, bringing 4,500 children and families, with illnesses ranging from cancer, spina bifida, hemophilia, severe burns and organ transplants.
“The bottom line is, where would the community be without Children’s Harbor?” Pearl asked. “Where would the kids, who have to be in the hospital for a month’s stay, go where there are no needles, there are no doctors, where there are no IVs?”
In addition to the Lake Martin Campus, Children’s Harbor also serves children at the Family Center at Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children in Birmingham.
“They have a place they can go play ping pong and watch a movie and relax,” Pearl said. “Sometimes hospital stays can be long. Here at the lake, kids with burns or with a heart condition or cancer or something like that, they have special needs and not every camp will take those children. Children’s Harbor will. They can boat, they can canoe, they can ski and they can do things at camp that kids without special needs don’t have. It’s really a special place.”
With rain in the forecast, Pearl presented $5,000 checks to charities that serve cancer patients, part of Auburn’s AUTLIVE cancer initiative.
Before teeing off at the event sponsored by Russell Lands and Alabama Power, Pearl updated reporters on the state of the Tigers program, which will travel to Italy in August, allowing extra practice time and a culturally enriching educational experience.
“I have no seniors on this basketball team, so it’s still a young team, but it’s an experienced team,” he said. “It’s a team that accomplished a lot last year. First winning season in a number of years, second best year in probably 13 or 14 years. But, we’ve got work to do. I feel like this is a team that can make the NCAA Tournament, and that’s what our goal is."
He then dispatched the 30 foursomes with words that echoed that sentiment: “You ain’t seen nothing yet. This basketball team is going to be the in NCAA Tournament next year. War Eagle!”
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) May 22, 2017
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer