BATAVIA — The weather was bad, but the cause is good.
Monday’s rainy, chilly conditions didn’t stop the enthusiasm of participants in the 26th annual Jim Kelly Celebrity Classic at Terry Hills Golf Course and Banquet Facility.
“Thanks to all the celebrities for coming out,” Kelly said in his introductory remarks. “For driving, flying from everywhere in the country to be here today.”
There were 280 golfers made up of 56 fivesomes who took part in this year’s event, which raises money for the Kelly for Kids Foundation and Hunter’s Hope Foundation. That’s down slightly from last year’s record number of 60 fivesomes and 300 golfers.
Despite that, Kelly said he expected that a record amount of money could be raised for the charities. Last year’s event, which also includes an auction in Buffalo the night before the tournament, raised more than $200,000.
“It looks like just about everybody showed up,” said Danielle Rotondo, restaurant and banquet manager at Terry Hills, who plays a key role in the operation of the tournament each year.
This was the seventh year the event has taken place at Terry Hills and has become the signature event at the Clint Street Road facility. The tournament started at Brierwood Country Club in Hamburg but moved to Terry Hills because it has 27 holes and additional amenities.
Planning for his year’s event was a long time in the making.
“This is something we start planning in October, and we go from October to now. We put about eight months in,” said Rotondo, whose eight-person committee does much of the planning and logistics for the event.
The tournament uses about 150 volunteers, with Terry Hills providing 60 and the Kelly organization providing the rest.
“We have scorekeepers on every hole. We have people in the morning who are shuttling people from the parking lots. We have people who are helping shuttle clubs from the parking lot. We have people who are helping with parking,” she said. “Then we have people who also help with security on course all day. We coordinate all that. We served breakfast in the dining room and then we serve dinner later.”
The event included many stars from the Kelly era, players like Andre Reed, Steve Tasker and Cornelius Bennett, other Bills greats like Joe DeLamielleure, Fred Smerlas and Doug Flutie, current Bills like Eric Wood and Ryan Fitzpatrick, and actors Daniel Baldwin, Jamie Farr and Chris McDonald. ESPN personality Chris Berman also made his annual pilgrimmage to Western New York for the event.
“I love it,” said Reed, a regular at the Kelly tourney. “I have my own tournament, and guys support mine. You’re here for the same reasons, to see people, have a good time.”
That has led to bigger and better tournaments every year — which means record amounts for charities.
“Every year it gets smoother and smoother. We’re just always improving and making it better and finding more ways to raise money for this fantastic foundation,” Rotondo said.