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NFL stars coming to Flowery Branch
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What has been an annual rite of passage for the Flowery Branch High School Touchdown Club will be taken to a different level this year.

The Branch Open Golf Tournament, a fundraiser put on by the club each year, will be transformed this year into the inaugural
Hines Ward Celebrity Golf Benefit with a portion of the proceeds going to the Falcons football program.

Ward, who was MVP of Super Bowl XL, played at the University of Georgia before being drafted in the third round of the 1998
NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It is especially pleasing for me to be launching the annual Hines Ward Golf Benefit at the Royal Lakes Golf Club on May 29 when I will be accompanied by my fellow NFL friends,” Ward said in a statement, “It is my sincere hope and desire to maintain
my commitment to this annual initiative.”

Those NFL friends confirmed to attend include current Pittsburgh teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes along with former Steelers teammate Jerome Bettis, the Falcons’ Wayne Gandy, San Francisco’s Takeo Spikes and the Dolphins’ Joey Porter.

All in all, there are 17 current and former NFL players confirmed to play, and they will join 17 threesomes made up of paid participants.

“I’d like to say I was heavily involved, but it was really our touchdown club,” Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw said. “It’s a joint effort between us and the Spout Springs Church (located in Flowery Branch) in conjunction with The Magenta Corporation.”

According to its Web site, “The Magenta Corporation was created due to a massive need to introduce commercialism into the world of community partnerships.”

The group uses the images and profiles of key athletes, celebrities and organizations to make a difference in communities around the world: one of those athletes being Ward.

“What a blessing and how fortunate we are to be the school that gets to ride their back,” Shaw said. “It’s special without a doubt.”

The staff, including Shaw, won’t be participating in the event but will be on hand.

“I’m going to go around and say hey to everybody,” Shaw said. “I’ll be on my handshake tour.”
Select members of the Flowery Branch football team will be at Royal Lakes to take part in a pre-tee time photo session.

“We’re going to make sure that our guys that are out there are the ones who represent us best,” Shaw said. “Up to this point, they’ve been so involved in spring practice that it hasn’t hit them yet, but (the benefit) will be exactly what we preach in this program: making memories that have nothing to do with being on the football field.”
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