Sony Open generates much-needed funds for Hawaii charities - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Sony Open generates much-needed funds for Hawaii charities

Andy Pazder Andy Pazder
Corbett Kalama Corbett Kalama

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - PGA Tour players and spectators alike are gearing up for this week's Sony Open. The event will generate much-needed funds for more than 100 Hawaii charities.

From working on their irons to figuring out the Waialae Country Club greens, golf pros are practicing for their run towards a tournament title and a big paycheck. But they're not just worried about money in their own pockets.

"The heart and soul of the PGA Tour is about charitable contributions, leaving proceeds behind in every community where we play," Andy Pazder, PGA Tour executive vice president, said.

Last year, the PGA Tour -- along with the Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour -- donated more than $125 million, bringing the total amount of charitable giving in the organization's history to $1.5 billion.

"It's at the core of what we do week in and week out," Pazder said.

At the Sony Open, money raised from ticket sales and other sources goes to the Friends of Hawaii Charities, which then accepts from local non-profit groups applications for grants ranging from $2,000 to $50,000.

"We've been able to parlay with our charity partner, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and we generate over $1 million a year for charity," Corbett Kalama, Friends of Hawaii Charities president, said. "We've been doing this now for 13 years."

The group HUGS provides services, such as respite care and peer support, to seriously-ill children and their families. The 80-year-old HUGS House near Diamond Head has undergone structural improvements, courtesy of the Friends of Hawaii Charities.

"The floor that we're walking on is new flooring that we installed couple, two, three years ago when our old flooring was degrading," Donna Witsell, HUGS executive director, said.

The grants have also paid for playground repairs and family outings, and have gone towards airfare and funeral expense funds.

"The ripple is tremendous," Witsell said about the PGA Tour's charitable efforts. "The benefit that those of us who are beneficiaries receive is astounding."

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