NFL alumni swing into action for charity

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Former NFL and Ohio State standout Keith Byars (right) and scramble teammate Ronald Moore react after a missed putt July 21 during the NFL Alumni Caring For Kids Charity Golf Classic.

Although there was just one winning team on the course in the Ohio NFL Alumni Caring For Kids Charity Golf Classic at the Medallion Club in Westerville on July 21, participants and volunteers said that children and central Ohio communities were the biggest winners.

"We know we're playing for a great cause every year and for another great charity this year," said Keith Byars, a former Ohio State running back who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1984 before a 13-year NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and New York Jets. "We're helping a lot of kids and that makes it all worthwhile no matter how well we play out here."

The annual fundraiser was part of the NFL Alumni Association Charity Golf Classic Tour.

There were 28 fivesomes competing, each captained by a former NFL player or scout. The top three teams in the scramble format, after handicapped scoring, qualified for the one-hole, alternate-ball shootout.

The winning team consisted of Andy Buss, Andy Steiner, Jeff Sengelmann, Terry Pettorini and captain Calvin Murray Jr., a former Ohio State running back who was a fourth-round draft pick in 1981 by the Eagles.

They will compete in the NFL Alumni Super Bowl of Golf XXXV in April 2015 at TPC Sawgrass in Pointe Vedra Beach, Fla.

Last year's Ohio winners -- captain Art Best, Kyle Alford, Brad Wattenberg, Brett Spurgeon and Kenny Brady -- won the chapter's first national championship when Brady sunk a 32-foot putt in the shootout.

The Ohio golf outing has raised more than $1 million in the past two decades.

"We changed courses, lowered entry fees and added new sponsors," said Jim Karsatos, the NFL Alumni Ohio Chapter president who played quarterback at Ohio State from 1983-86 and was drafted by the Dolphins in 1987. "Their support gives us a more positive outcome for our charity partner, See Kids Dream, and raising funds for charity is why we do this."

See Kids Dream serves kindergarten through eighth-grade students in Columbus, Dublin, New Albany, Reynoldsburg, Worthington and Upper Arlington.

"We're starting our seventh year and my wife, Laura, and I founded the organization to enable kids to help other kids," CEO and executive director Bill Grindle said.

"Over the past six years, the (approximately 15,000) students we've worked with have raised over $214,000 and supported 130 different charities."

The objective at See Kids Learn is to integrate community service into education. Through various service learning initiatives, students obtain a deeper understanding of community issues, learn how to identify community resources and become engaged in helping to find solutions.

"Our goal is to empower central Ohio youth, help them achieve their potential in school and in life by increasing their academic and community engagement," Grindle said. "We have a penny harvest, which is a year-long initiative where students are in charge. They collaborate to identify community needs, collect pennies, conduct research and then ultimately decide how and to whom they will award their funds."

"I think it's an outstanding charity," said John Cooper, who coached at Ohio State from 1988-2000 and works as a scouting consultant for the Cincinnati Bengals. "Any time you can help young people, I'm all for it. The best part about this charity is that the kids are learning to give back to the community, invest in it, at a young age.

"It's a great day for this outing and I'm having a lot of fun. I'm a 13-handicap, but I've made a few putts. It's a wonderful day all around."

Matt Finkes, a former Ohio State defensive lineman who was a three-time all-Big Ten honoree and a four-time All-American from 1993-96, was playing in the event for the first time.

"I play a lot of golf, but this is my first time in this one," said Finkes, a sixth-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in 1997 who went on to play for the Jets.

"It's great people, a great event and a great cause. We can get the alumni together, help the community and have fun golfing at the same time. ... If we can instill giving back to the community in the younger generation hopefully that will perpetuate that type of cycle."