Aug. 18 – Plum Senior High School’s girls and boys golf teams unite to raise funds for the victims of the house explosion in the Rustic Ridge neighborhood.
The Rustic Ridge “Plum Strong” Plum boys and girls golf team’s charity outing is scheduled for Sept. 17 at Willowbrook Country Club in Allegheny Township.
Willowbrook is donating the 18-hole course for the day-long event.
Dinner at Willowbrook follows the excursion, which sold out almost as soon as it was announced. Sponsorships are still being accepted.
Co-organizers Keith Nonnenberg, Plum’s JV boys golf coach, and Brian Dunaway, the boys varsity coach and golf professional at Willowbrook, said the level of community support, even among non-golfers, has exceeded anything they expected.
“I thought maybe we would raise $3,000 to $5,000, but we can raise more than $50,000,” Dunaway said.
The tournament will include 72 teams and accommodate a total of 288 golfers with two shotgun start times at 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
After the devastating and deadly house explosion along Rustic Ridge Drive that killed six Plum residents, Dunaway suggested a golf outing to Nonnenberg.
“I said let’s give some money back to the community and suggested a co-ed golf team event. The response has been overwhelming. I was in front of my computer for two days. I have people who don’t even know golf reaching out , ” Dunaway said.
Willowbrook Country Club donated $15,000 in sponsorship money.
All proceeds benefit the victims of the house explosion.
“I knew they (Willowbrook) wanted to give something back and it was great and great to see them willing to give up their course for the whole day of the tournament,” Dunaway said.
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A group of about 50 volunteers, including more than 30 Plum golf team members, will sign on to handle tournament operations.
The tournament is sold out, but sponsorships are accepted until September 9.
Hole sponsorships are $50 each, and organizers said due to the overwhelming response, more sponsorships per hole will be allowed.
A 50-50 and gift basket raffle will be offered.
A golf/dinner ticket is available for $100.
Jody Dojonovic, founder of the nonprofit Thomas Jack Dojonovic’s Project Spread Positivity, is donating his time and supplies to the event for the outing.
Dojonovic canceled his annual fundraising event scheduled for a week before the golf outing to provide additional help, sponsorship and support to the golf teams.
She started Spread Positivity after her son, Thomas Jack, committed suicide, and she advocates for mental health education in public K-12 schools.
“My son was an extremely positive person, so I started the foundation to spread positivity. We incorporated a mental health aspect into the foundation. I collect and use my funds to do different things. My whole team will be there to do whatever is necessary today,” said Dojonovic.
Spread Positivity is donating more than 25 raffle baskets, a golf foursome at Meadowink Golf Course in Murrysville, several NFL autographed jerseys, a new grill and grill accessories, and golf swag bags.
Three people have already donated $1,000 each to sponsor a hole, Dunaway said.
Nonnenberg said the robust response to the outing demonstrates the Plum Strong mantra.
Corporate donations include items from Dick’s Sporting Goods and Callaway Golf.
“It’s going to be full. I haven’t been able to put my phone down,” Nonnenberg said. “We have 20 teams on the waiting list. Right now (it is not possible to add another day) and we have more than 60 sponsors so far. We will probably add an online auction for large items and I am happy to stand in the face of such a tragedy of the spill. When something like this happens in a community, everyone comes together. It brings our community together, and I think that’s why people love Plum so much,” Nonnenberg said.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joyce by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter.