Interest in the annual Festival of Lights Golf Tournament has dwindled in recent years and when the co-chairs of the event moved to Gilbert it was unclear who would take over, but Ahwatukee Kiwanis stepped up and is hoping to make the tournament more successful than ever.
Kiwanis will chair the tournament this year, the 14th year the tournament has been in existence. It’s a large fundraiser for Festival of Lights, but in the past seven years Ahwatukee Kiwanis has offered volunteers to help run the event and has benefitted in part, as has Safeway, who donates the funds they raise to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
In recent years, while still being profitable, the tournament has not been as fruitful as in the past. Kiwanis has received as much as $3,200 from the tournament but last year, with only 86 out of 144 golfers possible signing up for the event, the club only received $1,400, said Robert Anderson, secretary of Ahwatukee Kiwanis. Part of the problem was scheduling of the golf tournament and the annual wine tasting. That problem will be fixed this year.
While Kiwanis is best known for and raises the most money from the annual Ahwatukee Easter Parade and Spring Fling, the group is aware that golf tournaments can be very successful fundraisers. The club, which is part of a national club, uses money raised to benefit local children. The Camelback Kiwanis Club, which has an annual golf tournament around the same time each year as the Festival of Lights tournament, raised more than $40,000 last year. This year their goal is $60,000. Kevin Ryan, who is co-chairing the Festival of Lights Golf Tournament, said he’ll count this year’s tournament as a success if they can raise $4,000.
“Four thousand doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you put 100 percent back in the community it can be far reaching,” he said. “It’s meaningful. Would I like to reach the Camelback number? You bet.”
Ryan said while Kiwanis has big plans to reach more people and really grow the golf tournament, they’ll continue to share the proceeds with Festival of Lights and Safeway.
“They’re a good partner,” he said. “They really are the founders of it and the festival is a 100 percent volunteer effort as well.”
Kiwanis has lowered the price for foursomes this year. Individual golfers will pay $100 per person while a group of four will pay $300. The club is still welcoming golfers, sponsors and donors for raffle items.
The tournament will be on Saturday, June 1 at the Foothills Golf Course, 2201 E. Clubhouse Drive, with a shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. and a buffet lunch and raffle afterward. For more information, visit www.folaz.org or call (480) 213-6264.
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