FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina Highway Patrol, along with other law enforcement officials, traded in their patrol cars for golf carts in Florence on Wednesday.
Troop Five hosted its annual charity golf tournament at the Country Club of South Carolina.
The event started 26 years ago after troopers from all eight Troop Five counties came together to play a round of golf.
“We played the first one at Darlington County at the golf course there," said retired Cmdr. Jo Nell. “And we had extra money, so with the extra money we didn’t know what to do with it, so we picked a charity, and it happened to be Make-A-Wish.”
Nell retired as Troop Five’s commander last month, but it didn’t stop him from once again helping organize the tournament.
After 15 years of donating to Make-A-Aish, Nell and other troopers started the T5 Charity Group, shifting their focus to charities of each of eight counties the troop serves.
Nell said troopers are a part of the communities they serve, and this tournament is a way to give back.
“I always preached to troopers to be a part of the county, and be a part of their area," he said. “It’s so huge to me to let people know that we are here to help."
For Nell, being a trooper isn’t only about responding to calls or wrecks.
“We’re not only there to respond to crashes, we see fatalities, but we see needs and we see hurt and that’s what we’re about we’re human just like everybody else," he added.
Troop 5 donated $1,500 during its very first tournament. Since then, they’ve grown to average between $10-15,000 in proceeds per event.
Following the tournament, the proceeds will be counted and T5 will contact each individual county to determine which charity will receive the donations.
Nell said even though he’s retired, he’ll continue to put on the tournament as long as he’s able.
“We’re going to do this, we’re going to keep doing this tournament as long as I’m here and alive," he said. “Because this is a big deal to us and we’re giving back to the community because of you all."