Golfing for a cure

Minnesota Twins slugger and Baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew founded the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament to raise funds for research into the disease that killed his teammate. The event returns to Sun Valley Resort this month for the 37th consecutive year.

 

Statistically, discovering someone you love has cancer is an experience almost everyone will go through. I was starting week two of a new job as arts editor of the Idaho Mountain Express when I got the news. My father, who was more than 5,000 miles away in my home country of England, had acute myeloid leukemia. For Harmon Killebrew, one of the most prolific power hitters in major league baseball history, discovering that his Minnesota Twins teammate had leukemia ignited a philanthropic urge in the man who hit 573 home-runs in his career.

During that career, baseball journalists lamented Killebrew’s understated personality. “Killebrew is so quiet that sportswriters have given up trying to jazz up his image,” said Time magazine in 1964. “He didn’t go out, he didn’t go ballistic, he didn’t go anything but bald,” wrote Steve Rushin in this Sports Illustrated article following the Hall of Famer’s death in 2011. But this baseball-star-turned-Boise-insurance-salesman had a more permanent legacy ahead of him: funding research into a cure for cancer.

While my father won his battle with the disease, Danny Thompson lost his, passing away in 1976 at the age of 29. The tragedy of such a young life and great talent being cut so short inspired Killebrew and his friend Idaho congressman Ralph Harding to start an annual event to raise money for research into the disease. Debuting in the summer of 1977 as a celebrity clambake, the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament has generated over $12 million for the battle against leukemia.

A Payette boy, Killebrew chose to host the event at Sun Valley Resort, on whose magnificent courses the four-person two-best ball tournament has been played ever since. Drawing stars from the world of baseball and Hollywood, such as Joe Washington, Jack MorrisDon Felder and Kevin Sorbo, the tournament’s high profile has helped generate substantial donations to the University of Minnesota Cancer Research Center in Minneapolis and St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise. “Due to the participation and support of nationally known celebrities and sponsors, the tournament has not only raised in excess of $11 million that has gone directly to leukemia and cancer research, but over the years these funds have been used in various matching grant programs leveraged to the million dollar level annually,” Tournament Director Georgie Fenton said in an interview with the Idaho Mountain Express in 2011.

Killebrew lost his own battle with cancer in 2011, and last year the tournament was renamed in its founder’s honor. The first Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament raised $700,000, bringing the grand total collected over 36 years to $12.5 million. Not bad for a round of golf in an idyllic setting.

Huey Lewis and the News return to Sun Valley to entertain at the Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament on Wednesday, August 21.

This year’s tournament runs from Wednesday, August 21 through Saturday, August 24. Registration for the 2013 tournament is now closed, but tickets are still available for the benefit concert on August 21 at 8 p.m. featuring Huey Lewis and The News. Purchase tickets from $54 to $255 here, or opt for a $159 hotel package of one night’s lodging and two show tickets by calling 800-786-8259 or clicking here.

Jennifer Tuohy

 

Rustic BBQ welcomes Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament to Sun Valley

Musician Muzzie Braun, Sun Valley Resort's Jack Sibbach, and KTVB news anchor Mark Thompson, with his twin daughters, arrive at the Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Welcome BBQ at Trail Creek Cabin yesterday.

While the skies overhead were heavy with smoke from numerous wildfires burning around Idaho, the smoke emanating from the fire pits roaring at Trail Creek Cabin was far more welcome. Delicious smells of roasted pork, beef and seasoned potatoes greeted the nearly 200 guests invited to the 36th Annual Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament.

As friends and families converged on the sumptuous feast, the atmosphere was relaxed and jovial. The attendees – including celebrities from the sporting world such as Joe Washington, Jack Morris and Frank Quilici, stars of the screen such as Kevin Sorbo and Arte Johnson, and Idaho VIPs Muzzie Braun, Mark Johnson and Congressmen Crapo and Simpson - enjoyed a traditional Western welcome BBQ, and learned their fate for the upcoming tournament.

Cooking up the good stuff for the guests of the 36th Annual Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament

Pinned to the side of the marquee were the pairings for the purpose of the event, the Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament, played on the courses of Sun Valley Resort. The four-person two-best ball tournament has been raising money for a very worthy cause over the last four decades; research into a cure for cancer and leukemia. In 2011, $700,000 was raised at this event, with proceeds benefiting the University of Minnesota Cancer Research Center in Minneapolis and the St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise.

Renamed this year to honor the tournament’s co-founder, baseball Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew (who passed away last year), the event was born from Killebrew’s desire to raise money for research into the disease that killed his Minnesota Twins teammate infielder Danny Thompson. For an excellent article on the history of the tournament and more details as to the weekend’s events, be sure to read Idaho Mountain Express sport’s editor Jeff Cordes’ piece here.

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament

Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament

August 15 – 18, 2012

Every August for the past 35 years, the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament in Sun Valley, Idaho has gathered celebrities, sponsors, participants, Members of Congress and supporters with one common goal: the cure for cancer and leukemia.

Started in 1976 by Harmon Killebrew and Ralph Harding, in memory of the Minnesota Twins shortstop, Danny Thompson, the Tournament is now considered one of the leading fundraisers for cancer research.  Last August the Board of Directors voted to honor the memory of Harmon Killebrew and his many contributions by adding the Killebrew name to its title.

We are proud to announce that the 2011 contribution to the recipients was $700,000. The proceeds from the event go to the University of Minnesota Cancer Research Center in Minneapolis and to the St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise.  Due to the participation and support of nationally known celebrities and corporate sponsors, the tournament has not only raised in excess of $12 million that has gone directly to cancer and leukemia research, but over the years those funds have been used in various matching grant programs that have been leveraged to the million dollar level annually.

"The contributions by the Danny Thompson Golf Tournament, critical in and of itself, has leveraged additional research funds of well over $25 million."  President Emeritus Robert Bruininks, University of Minnesota.

Becoming a part of this very worthy cause not only makes important strides in cancer and leukemia research possible, but also means four days of enjoyment for you and your guests in beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho.  We encourage you to participate in the upcoming event, which has been set for August 15-18, 2012.

For further details, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Georgie Fenton
Tournament Director

208-726-1049

www.killebrewthompsonmemorial.com