Golfers go full-swing for Blessing Bags Project

Golfers go full-swing for Blessing Bags Project
Greg Koeper, Mike Divietro, Kat Cox and Ryan Young proudly display the plaque that will bear the names of this year’s winners and the winners of future tournaments to come. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

CORTEZ – Ryan Young and Mike Divietro won the inaugural Nancy Franklin Flippin’ Mullet Open golf tournament that raised more than $16,000 for The Blessing Bags Project that assists homeless children and adults.

Swordfish Grill managers Katrina “Kat” Cox and Greg Koeper organized the tournament in honor of former bar manager Nancy Franklin, who passed away last year after battling cancer.

The two-person, best ball scramble was played Saturday, May 18, at the Pinebrook Ironwood Golf Club in Bradenton. After being paired together because their partners canceled, Young and Divietro collectively shot a 54 on the par 61 course.

“We’re very happy to win this tournament. Nancy Franklin was one of my good friends, and everybody that put on this tournament did a phenomenal job. The course was in great shape, and we’re happy we played as well as we did,” Young said during the afterparty and awards ceremony at the Swordfish Grill and Flippin’ Mullet Sports Bar in Cortez.

“The tournament was excellent, it’s a fun course and everybody had a good time. We knew Nancy and I met her mom today,” Divietro said.

Jerry Gore and Jim Keck shot a 57 to finish second. JoAnn Nevin won the women’s longest drive and closest to the pin contests. Jeff Marx won the men’s closest to the pin contest and Bob LeBlanc won the men’s longest drive contest.

As tournament play ended, Koeper said, “Everyone had a blast. It gives me chills.”

While making his way to the after-party, Swordfish Grill General Manager Bob Slicker said,
“It’s no surprise the tournament was a success because Kat and Greg were involved, and their love for Nancy showed through. It was sold out, and he had more sponsors than we could have hoped for. “On the third hole, people got to golf against me and Kat, and they gave extra money to do that. This tournament truly emphasizes Nancy’s heart. Everyone was happy to be here because of Nancy and The Blessing Bags Project, and we’ll do it again next year,” Slicker said.

Cox said she never organized a golf tournament before. “Everything came together, and it ran very smooth. Everybody said how much fun they had, and almost every golfer contributed above and beyond their entry fee. Before any 50-50 or raffle tickets were sold we raised over $12,000 with the sponsorships and entry fees. That’s pretty amazing – and all in Nancy Franklin’s name,” Cox said.

Gratitude expressed

During the after-party, Blessing Bags Project President Betsy Plante expressed her gratitude for the fundraising efforts. The organization serves the Bradenton-Sarasota area by providing homeless adults with bags filled with personal hygiene products and other necessities.

“We have special bags that we use for our children. They’re cloth bags that are hand-sewn by different organizations all over the country. Seabreeze Mobile Estates in Bradenton just did one hundred bags for us for Easter. In every child’s bag, we try to include an activity book, crayons, a toothbrush, toothpaste, hygiene products and a healthy snack. And every children’s bag gets a Beanie Baby tied to the bag so they have something to hug,” Plante said.

Slicker served as master of ceremonies for the after-party fundraising activities and awards ceremony. He thanked U.S. Foods and other unnamed vendors for providing the golfers with an excellent lunch buffet. He thanked the Pinebrook Ironwood Golf Club for allowing $60 of each $80 entry fee to benefit The Blessing Bags Project.

When thanking the tournament volunteers, Slicker noted Alyssa O’Brien and Jessica Williamson raised $265 selling Jell-O shots at the sixth hole. Franklin’s friend, Nora Davis, sold the Basket of Cheer and 50-50 tickets that contributed significantly to the fundraising efforts. And with Slicker serving as auctioneer, the live auction raised more than $1,000. As karma would have it, O’Brien won the cooler filled with liquor and beer. She also won the $550 50-50 drawing and donated $100 of her winnings to The Blessing Bags Project.

Nancy Franklin’s husband, Brian, and her mom, Sharon Boden, attended the after-party.

“Nancy was always charitable, and she loved The Blessing Bags Project. It’s a special day to have this many friends from Cortez, the Island and west Bradenton come out to honor Nancy’s legacy,” Brian Franklin said.

“I think this is beautiful. Nancy was always giving. When she was in kindergarten, she gave away all her books,” Boden said. As the party ended, Slicker addressed the crowd one last time. “Thank you so much for what you did today. On behalf of Nancy Franklin and your big hearts the real winner here today is The Blessing Bags Project.”

The Anna Maria Island Sun was a sponsor of this event.

Related coverage

Flippin’ Mullet hosting golf tournament in Franklin’s honor