In the early days of the Edmondson-Telford Center for Children, attorney Lydia Sartain recalled a young boy coming in to the Gainesville nonprofit.
No older than 5, the boy pulled out a toothbrush from a packet and asked the center’s current director, Heather Hayes, if it was for him.
“He said, ‘I’ve always wanted my very own toothbrush,” Sartain said, adding that the moment showed the center was doing the “right thing here.”
Through 20 years of the Phil Niekro Golf Classic, the organizers have raised more than $1 million for the Washington Street center.
Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Phil Niekro joined 44 teams for the annual golf tournament celebrating its 20th anniversary at the Chateau Elan Golf Club.
Along the courses, the center placed signs with children’s names and ages to represent the more than 300 victims served annually at the nonprofit organization.
“When you hear some of the stories and see those signs out there, you realize how important it is,” Niekro said.
The center is responsible for forensic medical exams and interviews of child victims, working with law enforcement and the judicial system in prosecuting abuse cases.
Sartain, who previously served as the Northeastern Judicial Circuit district attorney, said she “realized that we had a need here in our community for a child advocacy center.”
The Gainesville attorney said she reached out to Niekro and others in the community that may be able to help.
“Over the past 20 years, the Edmondson-Telford Center has flourished and grown,” Sartain said, as the tournament brings in between $70,000 and $80,000 annually.
In its history, the center has served more than 10,000 children since opening in 1997.
“Heather (Hayes) and her staff up there do a great job, and I am extremely proud to be a part of it,” Niekro said.