Ambassador of Golf Fundraiser Strengthens Northeast Ohio Nonprofits

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From exciting celebrity sightings to local businesses packed with visitors, the PGA Tour Champions tournament at Firestone Country Club creates a buzz across Akron, Ohio, for a week in July every year.

But the impact of the tournament, now known as the Kaulig Companies Championship, and its associated fundraising events resonates year round in Northeast Ohio.

Among the largest tournament fundraising events is the annual Ambassador of Golf award and dinner, presented by the FirstEnergy Foundation. At this year’s event, NBA champion Stephen Curry accepted the Ambassador of Golf award and joined the illustrious list of recipients who have fostered the ideals of the game on an international level and whose concerns for others extends beyond the golf course.

The money raised at the Ambassador of Golf event goes to the Northern Ohio Golf Charities Foundation and is then invested in worthy nonprofit organizations.

The Legacy Project of Stark is one of several nonprofits that was able to recently complete a project with proceeds awarded from funds raised at the Ambassador of Golf. The Legacy Project mentors Stark County students and provides programming at its more than 100-year-old church building. This spring, the Legacy Project installed all new windows and doors to make its building in Massillon more energy efficient. 

“Looking at the electric and gas bills, I am already seeing the reduction in costs,” said Eugene Lingenhoel, founder and executive director of the Legacy Project of Stark. "By successfully lowering our operating costs, we will have more money to pour back into the students. That's huge for us. The benefit will be generational.

“When we have companies and different foundations see the need and support us, it boosts our ability to continue on,” Lingenhoel continued. “It's not only good for us as a nonprofit –  when we share with the kids that FirstEnergy and some of these other companies are giving back to them, it makes them feel like there's a whole community that's behind them."

The dozens of organizations that have been given funding throughout the years provide a wide range of services—a few support the sport of golf, and others focus on meeting basic health and human care needs.  

“The deserving organizations that have received funding over the years have each shown an exceptional commitment to improving lives, and we are proud to support them while recognizing golf legends through the Ambassador of Golf program,” said Lorna Wisham, president of the FirstEnergy Foundation.

With another part of the $950,000 raised in 2022, The City Mission in Cleveland recently replaced its men’s bunk beds with StepUp System beds that are more easily accessible to all guests. Before now, the organization says about 30% of the men staying at its facility were sleeping on the floor because they could not physically climb into the old bunk beds. 

In Akron, nonprofit organization Open M was given a grant to upgrade security at its facility, where it runs a food pantry and free health clinics. The organization added parking lot lighting, installed 16 additional cameras, replaced a deteriorating shed door and is working to update building signage.

A video featuring the projects completed by the three organizations in this article is available on Flickr. 

The FirstEnergy Foundation is funded solely by FirstEnergy Corp.  and provides support to tax-exempt nonprofits, including health and human services agencies, educational organizations, cultural and arts programs and institutions, and civic groups in areas served by FirstEnergy's 10 electric operating companies and in areas where the company conducts business.

Last Modified: July 31, 2023