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Record haul at golf fundraiser to put 3 families in new homes
Medical Center Open golf tournament raises $282,000 for Habitat for Humanity
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Habitat for Humanity of Hall County Executive Director Ann Nixon, right, hugs Holly Byrd Thursday afternoon at Chicopee Woods Golf Course during the annual Medical Center Open fundraiser. Holly Byrd and husband Joseph had their Habitat home approved for construction with the money raised from the event.

Three local families were surprised to learn Thursday evening that they are the beneficiaries of this year’s Medical Center Open golf tournament, which raised a record $282,000 to support Habitat for Humanity of Hall County’s mission to provide affordable housing.

The 25th annual fundraiser, held at the Chicopee Woods Golf Course, drew big hitters and even bigger donors.

The fundraiser has raised some $3.2 million in its quarter century, with 100 percent of proceeds going to support the cause of choice.

It would almost be an understatement to say the families were shocked to learn this year’s donation haul would go toward building them homes in Habitat’s Copper Glen subdivision, a 21-home development off Baker Road near Ga.60/Candler Road.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Caleb Last. “They’ve kept it hush-hush.”

The father of 5-year-old twin girls said he’s been living with his parents while volunteering with Habitat in the hopes this day would come.

Last, like the other recipients, worked to help build other Habitat homes for over a year, putting in mandatory “sweat equity.”

Now that the payoff has come, Last said he feels like he’s hit the jackpot.

“It’s like winning the lottery,” he added.

Meoshea Columbus was teary-eyed when she said that she, too, was in the dark about the announcement.

It’s been a long time coming.

Columbus said the oldest of her two kids has been talking about the prospect of a new home “forever,” but she wonders if they’ll believe it now.

“I knew it was going to come up soon ... I didn’t know it would be this soon,” she said.

Joseph Byrd, who along with his wife and three kids will also receive a home, said the news means his children can grow up in a safe place and “have a chance.”

“You work so hard and you know it’s going to come ... it's such an amazing feeling,” he said. “It’s going to mean everything.”

Habitat Executive Director Ann Nixon said the charity tournament had once again fulfilled its mission, and the donations raised would provide an “unbelievable opportunity ... for the families it’s going to impact.”

And with a final reminder, Nixon urged the hundreds in attendance to keep Habitat’s mission going.

“Come on out and swing a hammer with us,” she said.

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