2011 Jesse Litsch & Bechtel Financial Celebrity Golf Tournament

 

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I remember once as a kid some one telling me that things happen for a reason. That fate, destiny and even the kiss of the Gods can not foresee some things that bring people together. I think this was focused more on romance than one two people bonding under a common goal, But I’ll take it.

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So here on the last day of the “Charity week” I am going to tell you a story about how two different individuals got together and formed something that is changing lives. It is a reminder that two different worlds can combine and conquer anything in their path.

Jesse Litsch volunteered for a off season charity golf event back in November 2008. In his paring was a young financial wizard named Kevin Bechtel. The golfing event was to help children in the northern reaches of Pinellas County. During the nightly awards ceremony, the two shared stories of other charity tournaments they had both attended and came upon the realization that if they combined their charitable efforts, both could reach a wide spectrum and fulfill their passion of giving back to children in need.

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Each told swapped stories about how Litsch had done fundraising and benefits before for the Boys and Girls Clubs, and Betchel told Litsch about his “Bikes For Kids” charity that gave bikes to needy and under privileged kids through the Pinellas County Sherriff’s Department. When both attended the opening of the Police Athletic League (PAL) center in the Lealman region of St. Petersburg, the bond began to form a tournament to facilitate the needs of both charities.

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What might have cemented the bond was the way Litsch talked about how the PAL had helped mold him and performed a vital part of his life growing up in this region of Tampa Bay. Soon, Litsch attended the “Bikes for Kid” event that holiday season and Litsch witnessed firsthand the joy and passion of Bechtel’s own commitment to his program. That evening over 100 bikes and helmets were delivered by PCSD deputy’s. That day formed the basis of what became the Jesse Litsch & Bechtel Financial Celebrity Golf Tournament.

The first joint effort between the two newly formed friends came in 2010 and expectations rose quickly as to the extend and paths the future could bring for both organizations, and for the tournament as a whole. I caught wind of the tournament right before the Toby Hall Celebrity Golf Classic and spoke with Jesse Litsch tournament organizer Sarah mire moment before I was heading out to help in that tournament.

 


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When I saw Litsch that day on the golf course I spoke to him about my volunteering and he gave me that huge smile I had known for so many years when he was a Rays batboy/Rays intern. I was anxious for Friday to arrive so I could have my first experience of this tournament.

I got there just as Kevin from the Pinellas Park Boys & Girls club along with a few other volunteers were fitting each cart with some golf tees and some water for the days action. I then went up to the registration area and met Jesse’s fiancée and walked into an amazing silent auction site with just over 50 items up for bids. The items ranged from signed hockey sticks and framed signed photos to a pair of glistening exquisitely cut diamond earrings that held an appraisal price of $ 1,650.

 

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Massage and photo opportunity for yourself or family, plus if you bid for a razor scooter, the charity will but another scooter with your bid for another youngster in the Tampa Bay community. But the thing that had me salivating was the chance to purchase 1 of 10 bats that were signed by every celebrity in attendance.

 

 

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But there was some additional high brow auction’s out there that piqued my interest. A chance to join your favorite MLB player on the field for BP, plus two tickets to the game. A California Wine Country Tour complete with hotel accommodations, dinners and a plethora if wine tours and tasting’s. 2 tickets to Vinny Lecavalier’s suite for any Tampa Bay Lightning game. Two Park Hopper passes to any Walt Disney Park in the World.

 

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The event was a “who’s Who in the Blue Jays organization such as pitchers’ Brett Cecil, Casey Jansen, Shawn Camp, Travis Snider, Ricky Romero, David Purcey, Scott Richmond, Jesse Carlson and Josh Roenicke. But not being outdone was the display of hitting talent from the Jays Jose Bautista, J P Arencibia, Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Travis Snider.

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The Tampa Bay Rays had a few member in house today representing the Rays present and past. Shortstop Reid Brignac and reliever Andy Sonnanstine, plus former Rays catcher Toby Hall were all out here for the kids today. Heck even World Class skateboarder Anthony Furlong was out there giving his all for the event. And the display of interesting golfing attire was out with a fury today as both Bechtel and Litsch had on by far the most eye irritating pants of the event.

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I am going to flash forward to the Awards dinner that was MC’ed by local television personality Charlie Belcher of Channel 13 fame. The show of support by Litsch’s Jays teammates combined with the other golfing competitors today made the night just seem to sing. This really felt more like a team gathering than a golf event with great bellowing laughs and bold predictions as to the tournament’s winners.

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The team that actually pulled it out today was led by celebrity Toby Hall, who’s 5-some spotted a score of 55 over the 18 holes. But the real winners here today were the two charities of both Litsch and Bechtel. There were whispers in the air that night of an even larger event in the future, and possibly two or more years at this same golf course.

The Jays player community came out in force to support one of their own, and everyone involved vowed to be a part of the 2012 event. When a cause and a golfing event both run true to themselves, people want to be a part of it again and again. I hope to volunteer in 2012 for another go-round of fun in the Sun, competitive tomfoolery and to support two great and noble causes. By the way, I did end up bidding on one of those 10 autographed bats… all for a pair of great causes.

 

 

8 Comments

raysrenegade,
Not sure if you are a Fantasy Baseball fan or whatnot but I would like to extend an offer to you…

http://the1constant.mlblogs.com/archives/2011/02/the_1_constant_2011_fantasy_ba.html

-Amazin86er

Amazing86,
I am a Fantasy player.
I was the 2009 ESPN MLBlogs.com Fantasy League winner and had the second best record in 2010. Did not make the playoffs in 2010 since we did not have a Wild Card. Finished 2nd in my division to Emma of the MLBlog, CruzBlue’s World with the 2nd best record…But loved the fun.
I will definitely check it out tonight.
Thank you.

Rays Renegade

Thank you for sharing so much about various charities and your contributions and involvement. There needs to be more people like yourself willing to give of their time for such events.

Ron

http://strictlycubsbaseball.mlblogs.com/

Ron,
I was lucky enough to have coaches in my sports life who felt that community involvement and service was as important as game prep.
It put a superior want to serve and do things for others in my blood. I still 24 years after my last snap of the ball live by that credo.
I think everyone should give some of their free time to help others. How you decide to help is your own decision. These blogs are just a sampling of what I do for my community, and the events that are special to me.

Rays Renegade

Sounds like another great event. Glad you got to be a part of it and here’s hoping you win one of the autographed bats!

http://www.janeheller.com/confessionsblog

Jane,
The bidding on the bats actually went vocal near the end of the night as only a few of us had bid on them at that point for $ 100 each. They were auctioned off during the Awards Presentation and I did not get my hand up and get Charlie Belcher’s attention in time to get one handed to me, but someone saw I wanted one and got one then presented it to me.
It is sitting about 10 feet away from me in my bat collection as I write this.

Rays Renegade

I wonder if Bautista has a killer drive of tee? I’m suspecting that he would, although with a pretty bad draw. Too bad Blue Jay group couldn’t win the tournament … man we don’t win anything. Camp looks pretty comfortable out on the course, nice picture. I didn’t know if that was him, or Jim Furyk? He really looks like a golfer, surprised he didn’t win. Seems like a great event, kudos to Litsch for giving back to charities in his area.
http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com

Homer,
Shawn is an old baseball friend and we had a few conversation through the day. Bautista actually is pretty new to golfing, but he did splendid compared to some of the guys who seem to love to hook or slice their way around the holes. I didn’t see Bautista go “opposite field” all day, which means he is focused on the course.
Jesse is a graduate of my old High School. I have always kept tabs on him even in college to see if his potential reached the MLB level.
The way both Kevin Bechtel and Jesse put together this tournament, the sky is the limit….with the charities reaping the rewards.

Rays Renegade

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