Labor Day golf tournament benefits wounded vets

North Myrtle Beach, SC - By Evan Lambert - bio | email

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A Grand Strand charity is showing support on Monday for wounded veterans on the greens at Tidewater Golf Club in North Myrtle Beach.

The Tidewater Charity Tournament Committee added a new mission to its annual tournament this year. Event organizer Bill Pearson invited wounded veterans to play and provided a Labor Day weekend vacation for the servicemen and their families.

Pearson read an article in Golf Digest about how therapists at Walter Reed are using golf to heal injured service men and women. He says he knew he wanted to be involved and immediately began fundraising for the Folds of Honor Foundation.

Tidewater Golf Club brought a handful of veterans out to play this weekend and was able to provide lodging and meals through donations.

Pearson says he's never seen the community support a cause so quickly before.

"It took me this year nine months to raise $20,000 for local charities. Once we decided to do this down here it took about three weeks and we're [going to] go over $10,000," he said.

The money raised will go directly to Fold of Honor, which grants scholarships to the children and spouses of wounded veterans.

Ramon Padilla is one of the veterans Pearson invited to the club. He says he's thrilled to have the chance to enjoy the break from home and appreciates the opportunity.

"There's people out there that want to help you, people out there that want to know who you are, know what you've done and appreciate everything that you have done for them," said Padilla.

Afghan fighters injured Padilla in 2007 when they attacked his unit. As a result of the injury, he's been left with one arm.

"They lead off with an RPG aimed right at me. RPG blew up. The shrapnel cut the lower part of my left arm and I also took a bullet to the right side of the head, which caused traumatic brain injury," he said.

The recovery process was long and Padilla still goes to therapy. A prosthetic arm allows him to golf regularly.

Playing with Padilla and the other veterans gives Pearson a new perspective on life.

"We really shouldn't be complaining about anything. These guys have overcome so much and it gives me a perspective that you know we really have nothing to be complaining about," said Pearson.

Pearson hopes to bring veterans down for the event each year.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.