Twenty LPGA Tour pros—including World Golf Hall of Famers Nancy Lopez and Dame Laura Davies—joined LPGA tour veteran and former Golf Channel commentator Val Skinner at her foundation’s 16th annual LIFE event (LPGA Pros in the Fight to Eradicate breast cancer) at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J. on Monday.
I was honored to attend the event for the first time, and even more thrilled to be paired with one of Golf.com’s Most Beautiful Women in Golf, Sandra Gal.
Sandra was making her second appearance in the event. When I asked her about the impressive player turnout on the heels of last week’s LPGA event in Atlantic City, she responded, “It’s close to our hearts. I think everyone has a member of their family who has been affected by cancer. That’s why I think it’s so vital to support this cause.”
We were all anticipating a perfect day, but unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas. My group gamely persevered through seven holes in a deluge of rain (two players in our foursome were without rain gear!), but when the thunderstorm warning horn blew and we had to clear the course, I think it was a relief to pretty much everyone.
Sandra informed me that the event’s luncheon is the day’s real highlight anyway, so we dried off and gathered in the dining room for the start of the program, which featured remarks from Val and her sponsors and partners, as well as testimonies from “LIFE Heroes”—individuals honored by the Val Skinner Foundation for their perseverance in battling cancer.
It was deeply emotional and sobering to listen to the speakers’ stories, which were filled with displays of immense courage in often tragic circumstances. Many of them were aided not only by resources funded by Val Skinner’s Foundation, but also by Val herself.
To cap off the afternoon, Val announced that $500,000 had been raised on Monday, bringing her 16-year total to over $10 million. She also announced a new partnership with Discovery Education, which will help increase cancer awareness, understanding and prevention via the implementation of a national high school science curriculum that focuses on cancer genetics. The program will be available to over 35 million students and 3.8 million teachers and is expected to launch this fall.
I wasn’t the only one who was moved by the day’s stories. Sandra told me that attending Val’s event last year inspired her to host her own charity event. “I had been playing around with the idea, but last year’s event definitely gave me the final kick,” she says.
The Val Skinner Foundation is consistently ranked as one of the most effective foundations run by a professional athlete. “We’re doing this for you, girls,” Val said on Monday. “We’re looking out for you.”
On behalf of all us girls, thank you, Val.