Delaware News

Putt for Hope set Saturday

Teen pays hospital back with fundraiser's green

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Zach Thomson poses last Thursday, May 2, for a portrait with his mother, Lisa, at their home in Delaware. Zach was stricken with brain cancer at age 5; now, his family hosts Putt for Hope, a charity mini-golf event to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.JOSHUA A. BICKEL/THISWEEKNEWS
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Zach Thomson got his first set of golf clubs when he was 3 years old.

Two years later, doctors discovered a tumor in his brain.

Now, the 14-year-old golf lover, an eighth-grader at St. Mary School, is pulling out his clubs to benefit the hospital that cured him -- and continues to work year after year in the fight against pediatric cancer and other childhood diseases.

The sixth annual Putt for Hope is set from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 11, at Magic Mountain Fun Center's Polaris location, 8350 Lyra Drive in Columbus.

The event features a raffle with dozens of items up for grabs; a pizza lunch is scheduled for noon.

All proceeds from the event, which is organized by the Thomson family, go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

This year, the family hopes to raise more than $10,000 for the hospital, which does not charge families for treatment not covered by insurance.

That was a boon for the Thomson family after the tumor was discovered in Zach's brain while he was still in preschool.

Though it was benign, the tumor caused dangerous fluid buildup in Zach's cranium. To treat the condition, he underwent brain surgery and endured 10 weeks of radiation therapy during the summer of 2005.

The tumor was removed, but Zach now lives without a functional pituitary gland, an organ located at the base of the brain that secretes several hormones important for regulating the body.

He's on a strict regimen of medications and attends regular check-ups with an endocrinologist -- but he never lets it get him down.

"I don't let it affect me," he said. "Everyone at school knows that I have to go to the hospital every summer, but I do pretty well with it."

He has even become a champion for St. Jude and has attended several fundraising events to speak on behalf of the hospital.

Mother Lisa Thomson said the family organized Putt for Hope because they wanted to give back and help other families struggling with a child's illness.

"We realized there are kids who are so sick they can't play putt-putt golf or even go to school," she said. "They're sick, and their conditions take over their lives.

"We just felt we needed to give back."

To date, Putt for Hope has raised more than $30,000 for St. Jude.

Seventy-five percent of all operations at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital are funded by public donations.

In 2012, donors gave $814 million to the hospital, which has daily operating costs of about $1.8 million.

"That's the way we're able to treat our kids free of charge," said Tiffany Kinzer, a philanthropic adviser for St. Jude. "No child that comes to St. Jude is turned away because of an inability to pay."

For more information, sponsorship opportunities or to register, visit puttforhope.com, call Lisa Thomson at 740-815-8831 or email her at puttforhope@gmail.com.

Those who attend also may register at the door. Registration is $15 per golfer.

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