July 28, 2002 – The 6th annual Beacon Schools Celebrity Golf Tournament set for Aug. 9-11 has a challenge off the greens. "For businesses this year, with the economy the way it is, finances are low for everybody," Valerie George, executive director, says.
However, the perpetually upbeat George is not discouraged. "It may be a little tough, but the businesses who have supported us will give as much as they can," she said.
It's a far different local challenge for George from the one she faced last year — when play at the Mahogany Run Golf Course on St. Thomas had to be scratched because its greens had been ruined by a disastrous misuse of spraying. The only solution was to send the players to St. Croix's Carambola Golf Course, while juggling social activities between the two islands.
"Mahogany Run is better than ever this year," George said, and so is the celebrity guest list, plus there will be a very special event. An African-American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame Caribbean induction ceremony, the first on St. Thomas, will honor five athletes who will be playing in the tournament: Michael Merriweather, twice NFL player of the week; Cliff Branch, NFL receiver and Pro Bowl player; Darian Jordan, NFL Forty-Niners star; George Johnson, NBA star; and Livingston Bramble, Crucian WBA former lightweight boxing champion of the world.
During the day on Friday, Aug. 9, celebrity tournament participants will conduct youth baseball and basketball clinics on St. Croix, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Canegata Ballpark.
That evening, a sponsors' reception and dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort, where the local golfers will meet their celebrity counterparts.
The guest entertainer for the sponsors' reception is inveterate performer Wolfman Jack, who has probably been around longer than all the other performers combined.
He is "indisputably the world's most famous DJ — was the master of ceremonies for the rock 'n' roll generation of the '60s on radio, and later on television during the '70s," his web site states. He has performed with everyone from the late Mel Torme, Zoot Sims and Sammy Davis Jr. to Tony Bennett and Natalie Cole.
Saturday, Aug. 10, will feature practice golf rounds, topped off with a cocktail party and silent auction at the Renaissance, beginning at 8 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 11, is play time, with first tee-off at 7:30 a.m. The awards banquet will follow the play, at the Mahogany Run Banquet Room. On the program at 8 p.m. Sunday is a "Comedy Special" at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.
For the comedy show, the headliner will be Monique Imes, a "Queens of Comedy" and winner of the 2001 and 2002 NAACP Image Awards for outstanding actress in a comedy series (as the big-hearted mom in "The Parkers") and star of "Showtime at the Apollo" and HBO's "Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam."
Sharing the stage with Imes will be Jay Phillips, Baltimore's 1997 Comedian of the Year; Jerome Barnes, national star known for a unique style of "Keeping it Real"; Reginald Carroll, BET's "Teen Summit" and "Comic View" performer; and Arien Griffin, also of BET's "Comic View" and also host of the nationally syndicated TV show "Thunderbox."
The Beacons beginnings
The Beacon Schools concept was introduced locally in 1996, when Sen. Lorraine Berry invited representatives of New York's highly successful Beacons program to participate in her Youth Symposium that year. Local education officials adopted the afterschool youth tutoring and adult classes concept, and a plan was drafted for the new not-for-profit V.I Beacon Schools to develop a program in 1997.
Schools designated as "beacons" in a community keep their doors open after regular classes end, often into the evening, offering a variety of educational, recreational and life-enhancing programs for youngsters and adults. In the V.I. Beacons, teachers and facilitators are recruited from the schools and the community as "activity sponsors." The Beacons program provides administrative, monetary and in-kind support.
As executive director, George hasn't missed a beat since the program's inception, from organizing the annual celebrity golf tournament fund-raiser to attending a performance by the Addelita Cancryn Marching Iguanas band to overseeing the day-to-day administration of the program from behind her desk.
The V.I. Beacons program has won several awards, including the 2000 Metropolitan Life Foundation's Outstanding After-school Program and a Silver Award from the Ad Club of the V.I.
The tournament format is a scramble, in which total team scores are what count. As a fund-raiser for the Beacons program, it works like this: A team of three local golfers pays an entry free of $2,000. This entitles them to a celebrity to play with them and tickets for each of the three for the sponsors' reception and dinner, the cocktail reception, the awards banquet, a comedy show, a beach party and the Caribbean Hall of Fame induction ceremony. George said a team with no celebrity can also enter the tournament, for $500.
Sponsorship packages also raise funds for the Beacons. They run from $100, which gets you two tickets to the silent auction, to a $10,000 "platinum sponsorship" that will get the sponsor multiple tickets to everything. In between are $5,000, $3,000, $1,000 and $500 sponsorships.
For more information, contact event public relations person Lee Vanterpool through George at 777-9300. Or visit the Beacon Schools of the Virgin Islands web site. To make a contribution for the silent auction, call Karen Mo at 776-1760.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.