Thursday, April 25, 2013

National Volunteer Week: Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament

Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation's compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another. 
~Erma Bombeck

Matthew Willis (second from the left) with his foresome in
the 2011 Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament.

This week is National Volunteer Week and while The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is thankful for its volunteers year round, we are taking this opportunity to highlight seven outstanding volunteers that help make the North Texas chapter run so efficiently.

Matthew Willis, while one of the youngest golfers at the Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament, is the top fundraiser year after year.  He consistently raises more than $12,000 in honor of his father, Jim Willis, one of the tournament co-founders. 

Jim was diagnosed with leukemia in 1994 when his wife was pregnant with Matthew.  They already had a two year old daughter.  During treatment Jim met Bob Barker, another golfer who was also battling leukemia.  The two decided to combine their love of golf with their leukemia battle and created the Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Shortly after the inaugural tournament, Jim lost his battle with leukemia.  Bob is living cancer-free and is still very involved in the tournament, serving on the planning committee of the tournament. 

May 6, 2013 will mark the 17th year of the tournament and even though Matthew was very young when his father died, he raises funds and participates each year in his father's memory.  The tournament has raised more than $2.3 million since its inception and Matthew has played a large role in reaching that impressive milestone.

We are thankful for Matthew!

1 comment:

  1. I was deeply saddened to learn that my dear friend Jim Willis passed away so many years ago in the prime of life. I met Jim when he was about Matt's age. We were both freshman at the University of Texas, living on the 4th floor at Jester East. Jim and I hit it off immediately and became good friends. We played tennis and chess together and had many great matches. Even at that young age, it was obvious to everyone that Jim was someone special - someone who had his act together. He knew who he was and where he was going. After our freshman year we no longer lived together but we still saw each other at the business school and I was always glad to see him. We lost touch over the years - he was in the MBA program and I was across the campus at the law school - but I always assumed - without question - that he would achieve great success in life. It's been more than 30 years since I last saw Jim but I remember him as if it were yesterday. He made that kind of impression. I never met a more decent, honorable person in my life. Jim had the kind of integrity that you don't soon forget. Even though we led separate lives, it was kind of a comfort to know that there was someone like him out in the world fighting the good fight. I have no doubt that Matt and his sister will follow in his footsteps -they have the blood of a thoroughbred pulsing through their veins. I wish there was some way to magically transplant the happy memories of Jim that still live in my memory to Matt and his sister, they deserve them more. And while he may be gone from this earth, Jim’s spirit lives on in the kind words and deeds of others, which epitomize this wonderful man.

    Clay Humphries, President
    J C Pace Holding Company