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Speech center receives record-breaking gift from Medical Center Open golf tourney
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Golfers watch as scores are posted Thursday at Chicopee Woods Golf Course in Gainesville after the 22nd annual Medical Center Open golf tournament. - photo by NAT GURLEY

A crowd of more than 200 golfers is not the ordinary capacity for the golf course at Chicopee Woods in Gainesville.

Still, cars overflowed the parking lot Thursday to line Atlanta Highway for the 22nd annual Medical Center Open golf tournament.

Although the food, drinks and door prizes were enough to bring in large crowds, the golfers were also eager to see their efforts support a worthy cause.

The Northeast Georgia Medical Center Foundation, which hosts the tournament and chooses a different nonprofit organization to benefit each year, selected the Northeast Georgia Speech Center as this year’s recipient.

Due to the positive response and help from volunteers and sponsors in the community, all proceeds from the event were donated to the organization.

“Our mission is to improve the health of our community, and each year we select a nonprofit to be the beneficiary that’s focused on the health of the community,” said Nancy Colston, executive director of the foundation.

“The speech center certainly serves many, many children in our community that have a tremendous need.”

Sonya Smith, the annual gifts officer at the foundation, said the speech center did not have other opportunities to receive aid before the tournament.

“They’ve not done a lot of fundraising in the past, and we saw the impact the fundraising could do to help those children,” Smith said.

This year’s goal was to raise $175,000 for the speech center. The organization needed funds to complete four projects including an outdoor sensory garden, an indoor sensory room with a play area, a van and a security system.

Because of the community’s support, the foundation presented the center a check for a record-breaking $238,550.
The foundation also received the most Eagle sponsorships, which is the highest level of financial contribution, it has ever seen.

“(It helps) tremendously,” said Diane Brower, executive director of the speech center. “We would not have these projects if it weren’t for what has been done today.”

“(We are) just eternally grateful,” she said. “So thankful.”

She said the 15-passenger van will allow the center to take children on field trips and help them take advantage of the outside resources the area offers.

Brower also said the video security system the center plans to install will ensure better safety.

A member of the speech center board, J.C. Smith, accepted the award with Brower at the reception after the tournament. He said he is looking forward to the technology the funds will bring.

“This moves the speech center into the 21st century,” Smith said.

“More than anything, it’s going to let little children who would never stand a chance of speaking learn how to speak and use all their senses.”

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