A number of joyful Christmas tears were shed recently, thanks to some late contributions to Folds of Honor, an organization that provides scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members.
Originally, it looked as if contributions from Patriot Golf Day and other Folds fundraisers would be able to fund about 3,500 scholarships this year, an impressive number, but less than the original projection.
A string of late contributions helped fuel an additional 1,000 scholarships, however, and the scholars were notified in the two weeks leading up to Christmas.
Since its inception in 2007, Folds has provided over 29,000 scholarships totaling more than $140 million. Patriot Golf Day, which takes place each year, is one of the largest fundraisers for Folds of Honor.
Here’s a look at some of the recipients who recently found out they’d be getting $5,000 for college.
Lt. Col. Dan Rooney is the founder and CEO of Folds and he’s also the only F-16 fighter pilot/PGA Professional. Rooney’s story is a fascinating one — he served as a motivated speaker for two U.S. Ryder Cup Teams and has helped to Jack Nicklaus in building American Dunes Golf Club, a course that will be wholly dedicated to the military. The course is expected to be finished in May 2021.
For Patriot Golf Day, golfers can donate extra money through their green fee at participating courses nationwide, and many courses will present cash donation boxes on their pro shop counters. Many courses also conduct fundraising tournaments and other events to support the cause, and interested parties can donate directly to Patriot Golf Day through foldsofhonor.org. In 2020, Folds of Honor joined forces with PGA HOPE – the flagship military program of the PGA of America’s PGA REACH foundation – to conduct the annual fundraiser.
Folds of Honor reported that in 2019 alone it awarded approximately $22 million in educational scholarships to more than 4,500 students, representing a 10 percent increase in scholarships from 2018. And while Folds of Honor has grown to include many corporate sponsors, Patriot Golf Day retains a special meaning for Rooney.
“Patriot Golf Day is how everything started with Folds,” said Rooney, who still flies F-16s for the U.S. Air Force Reserve and is a golf pro with an equity stake at the course he helped develop in Oklahoma, The Patriot Golf Club.
“I can tell you as a Class A PGA member, it is my proudest moment. It’s just so pure.”
Golfweek’s Jason Lusk contributed reporting to this story.
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