Drive. Determination. Single-minded focus. These are qualities you’d expect to see on the golf course. But today at the famed USGA Winged Foot Golf Course in Mamaroneck, N.Y., those words took on extra meaning during the 15th Annual Autism Speaks Celebrity Golf Challenge.
Retired UConn head coach Jim Calhoun told a crowd of more than 220 golfers how he balked at NCAA rules – and wore his Autism Speaks blue puzzle pin everywhere he went. “I wear it or I don’t coach,” said the Autism Speaks ambassador and autism grandpa.
Drive. Determination. Single-minded focus.
It was a day of picture-perfect weather as Autism Speaks co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright, as well as event co-chairs Kevin and Susan Murray, exercised their inner Justin Rose. They were joined by celebrities from the court and field—including Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams, another Autism Speaks ambassador.
The celebrities played in foursomes with other golfers throughout the day, and afterwards-- settled into a gourmet dinner and moving evening program for more than 400-people-- highlighted by touching portrayals of what autism is really like for the families – from the Murrays. The Murrays’ son, Griffin, also paid special tribute to his brother Owen, who is affected by autism, and his parents for spearheading the golf challenge for 15 years. Then, during the live auction, the crowd got a surprise mini-concert from Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors—who auctioned off himself in concert -- for the cause.
Dinner guests had a bevy of other auction options, including two tickets to the ESPY awards, Deron Williams-signed Nike shoes, exclusive vacation packages and backstage tickets to a Justin Timberlake concert.
Major sponsors of the day and night were the Mel Karmazin Foundation, MKP Capital Management LLC, Jefferies & Company Inc.,Wells Fargo, BNY Mellon, Suzanne & Bob Wright, Carlson Capital and EllingtonManagement Group.