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Area charities benefit from Greenbrier Classic

More than three dozen nonprofit organizations will reap benefits from this year's Greenbrier Classic before the first ball is hit from the tee.

When Jim Justice launched the tournament in 2010, he pledged that it would not only be an economic boon for the state, but also help local charities raise funds for their causes.

For the fourth year in a row, the Greenbrier Classic has given local organizations a chance to raise funds by selling tickets through the Badges for Charity program.

Under the program, registered charities promote ticket sales and in return get to keep a percentage of the funds from the sale.

When people go to purchase weekly grounds badges for the event, they are given the option of choosing either a regular grounds badge or one from the Badges for Charity program.

The Greenbrier donates 30 percent of the proceeds from the badge purchase to the charity of the buyer's choice.

Weekly badges cost $159 to $5,000 this year, depending on the level of access. Under that price schedule, charitable groups stood to reap between $47 and $1,500 for each badge sold.

During the first three years of the program, more than 150 area nonprofits received more than $290,000 through the program, an average of about $97,000 each year.

This year, 37 organizations registered to participate in the program.

One of the top fundraisers each year has been The First Tee of the Roanoke Valley. The First Tee is part of a national organization that uses the game of golf to help teach important lessons about character to young children around the country.

The Roanoke Valley chapter works with youth in Virginia and West Virginia.

Jennifer Blackwood, the organization's executive director, said the support of the Greenbrier Classic, Justice and his family has been critical to the organization's success in recent years.

"Being part of the Greenbrier Classic, and a beneficiary of the Old White Charities, is a major boost for our chapter," Blackwood said. "Their support allows us to offer programs that teach life skills and golf skills to thousands of children throughout the Roanoke region annually."

The First Tee, The Greenbrier and Polo Golf will also have the organization's annual Youth Day this Tuesday at The Old White TPC. The day will begin with a clinic with PGA tour golfers followed by a four-hole charity golf scramble that will award $10,000 to the local chapter of the winning junior golfer.

Remember the Miners, a nonprofit created by West Virginia University men's basketball coach Bob Huggins to raise awareness for issues affecting coal miners and their families, has also used the Badges for Charity program to help fund its work.

Funds from the badge program are combined with funds raised from other events to help award scholarships to the children of coal miners. In 2012, the organization awarded 19 scholarships ranging from $1,250 to $10,000 to families across West Virginia.

During an interview at last year's Greenbrier Classic, Huggins said being able to work with Justice and the Badges for Charity program not only helps raise funds, but also awareness for the Remember the Miners organization.

"When people like Jim Justice get involved, to me it's a validation that what we're doing is the right thing," Huggins said. "He's just been terrific and absolutely phenomenal to the cause.

"Jim Justice in my mind is a guy who really cares about our state," he said. "I think it's very evident in what he did with buying The Greenbrier and bringing this golf event -- he cares about our state, he cares about the people in our state and how our state's represented."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at or 304-348-4836.


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