The third annual Dustin Ledford Live Wide Open golf tournament will tee off at Chatta Valley Golf Club June 8.
Dustin was a well-loved young man from Bradley County who was killed by a drunk driver in 2010. He played baseball from the time he was 3 years old and was a left-handed pitcher for the Bradley Central Bears before graduating in 2004.
To honor his memory, his parents Danny and Kim Ledford established a scholarship in his name that will benefit an athlete from the Bradley County or Cleveland school systems. The scholarship is presented annually to a senior headed to the college of his or her choice.
“When Dustin was killed I wanted to come up with a way I could keep his memory alive, because I think as a mother your worst fear is that your child is going to be forgotten. That’s why we came up with the scholarship foundation — as a way to keep his memory alive,” said Dustin’s mother Kim.
Scholarships are designated for seniors who are athletes to help defray the cost of attending the college of their choice. “We ask they be an athlete because Dustin was an athlete,” Ledford explained.
The scholarship application includes an essay on the dangers of drinking and driving. Ledford said she is continously amazed at the investigation that goes into the requirement.
“The research the kids do on that is tremendous. I think it helps them learn too, about bad choices. When you make bad choices they affect more than just yourself, they affect a lot of people. People need to learn that, adults need to learn that,” said Ledford. “Choices have consequences.”
To date the tournaments have raised close to $10,000 and more than $4,500 in scholarships have been awarded. “This year alone, I’ve raised a little over $5,000,” said Ledford.
In its inaugural season, 11 teams took to the links to participate in the tournament. Last year 16 teams were on the course This year Ledford hopes the number increases to 25 or more. The format for the tournament is 4-person, select shot. The cost to enter is $50 per person. Both breakfast and lunch will be served.
“Every year the tournament has grown and grown. That is our primary source of funding the scholarships. The community has been so great and generous in its giving. That’s why we were able to give six scholarships this year,” said the mother turned golf tournament director.
“Chick-fil-A is doing breakfast and Shane’s Rib Shack is doing lunch. If nothing else, people can come out and eat and have a great time,” said Ledford who also serves as tournament director.
Trophies will be handed out to the top three teams and this year a new trophy will be added for the team that finishes in last place.
“There are sponsorships still available if anyone would like to sponsor a hole. There is still time to do that,” stated Ledford. “We have some nice signs made up that we will place on the golf course.”
Ledford said donations also will be graciously accepted even if the grantor has no wish to play a round of golf. “We would love for them to come and eat if they would like to make a donation,” she said.
Tax exempt donations should be made out to the Dustin Ledford Scholarship Foundation, 180 Charles Circle S.E., Cleveland TN 37323. Inquiries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tournament applications may also be picked up at the Cleveland Daily Banner.