A normally clean-shaven Geno Auriemma was sporting the early stages of a beard today as he strolled through Hartford Golf Club. He said that he was on vacation and “I don’t feel like shaving.’’
What Auriemma felt like doing was raising more money to benefit the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Now in his 11th year associated with the “Fore the Kids’’ Charity Golf Tournament, the event will surpass $1 million raised.
“First of all, I don’t think it has anything to do with me,’’ Auriemma said. “Our committee … Guys like (co-chairs) Brien Beakey and Joe Campise and some of these other guys, and a lot of the women that work on the committee, they do all the work. And you know why it’s hard to get into this tournament? Because the same people come back every single year. So it’s a bunch of loyal people that support it. They know it’s a great cause and they get treated great. The guys at the Hartford Golf Club do an amazing job. And they have a great time and they meet a lot of nice people and they keep coming back.’’
A sellout field of 200 golfers was on hand, and there were others on a waiting list. The entry fee was $1,100 per foursome and the event will generate about $100,000.
Auriemma said they raised $15,000 or $20,000 during its first year.
“The event is very important for us,’’ said Dr. Jeffrey Thomson, Division Chief of Orthopaedics at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. “Geno draws a huge number of people who donate their time and money. That helps us tremendously. This tournament is now going over $1 million in total donations. So I come out every time for it. Specific things that we’ve done with this is research, primarily, and equipment. We just bought an important piece of statistical software to help us run the numbers and continue the research. It helps to fund research projects. It also goes to writing papers, taking care of patients and equipment. We just use it in many, many ways. It’s very, very helpful to us and very meaningful.’’
Auriemma is modest when discussing his impact on the event. But Thomson said that Auriemma’s impact has been “huge.’’
“He’s a gigantic personality,’’ Thomson said. “He’s a great golfer. He’s a wonderful host. He’s a great speaker. I can’t thank him enough for all of his time and effort. He’s been extremely generous. I had a patient with a spinal problem who loved to play basketball. And she had a lot of anxiety and issues, and he spent some time, along with the (UConn women’s) team, with this particular patient. She came out and they could not have been kinder or nicer.’’