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Golf tournament a success

Mother Nature provided a perfect day and East Lincoln Relay for Life provided the opportunity for more than 100 people to turn out to a charity golf tournament at Cowan’s Ford Golf Club at Lake Norman last Monday.
Even before the official start of the tournament, many people took to the driving ranges and putting greens armed with golf clubs and balls to practice for the tournament that benefited the East Lincoln Relay for Life.
It’s the fourth time in five years the tournament has been held at Cowan’s Ford, sponsored by the East Lincoln Fire Department according to chief Tim Tench.
“We couldn’t make everything come together last year,” said Tench. “That’s why we didn’t have a golf tournament.”
Red fire engines from ELFD marked the entrance as players flowed in to the country club.
“It’s perfect for tournament play,” said Cynthia Hoyle, membership director of Cowan’s Ford. “People have a good time playing here and that’s what keeps them coming back for the tournament year after year.”
Cancer has touched Hoyle personally, as one of her family members was recently diagnosed with the disease.
“My brother-in-law will have surgery in the very near future,” said Hoyle.
More than 20 ELFD firefighters and junior firefighters volunteered to work the tournament.
ELFD Captain Lee Keever decided to play in the tournament. A cancer survivor, Keever was diagnosed with cancer while a student at East Lincoln High School.
Keever was a standout football player at ELHS and started feeling bad after giving blood one day.
“I was in my junior year,” Keever said. “My health kept going down.”
Keever said he remembered getting out of bed one night to get something to drink. His father found him on the floor the next morning.
Keever’s family doctor immediately sent Keever, then 17, to Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte.
Tests revealed Keever had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, which strikes the body’s white blood cells. About 4,000 cases are diagnosed each year.
Keever said he underwent 12 weeks of intense chemotherapy, separated by a six-week break. He spent a total of 32 days in the hospital.
Now 30 years old, Keever has been a survivor since July 1994, when the cancer went into remission.
“Research to stop cancer means more to me than anyone,” said Keever. “I may not be here today. Cancer is an awful disease.”
Like Hoyle, Keever knows of family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. Some, like himself, have survived the disease, others have not.
“What the American Cancer Society and fundraisers like this means is there wouldn’t be research to stop or treat cancer,” said Keever. “Like the old adage says, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Keever said he was thankful for everyone who had a hand in the golf tournament.
“The money’s going to a great cause,” said Keever.
According to ELFD firefighter Billy Scott, the first three years of the tournament raised more than $12,000 for East Lincoln Relay for Life. Among the businesses donating time and/or services included the Sports Page, Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet in Newton and the pro shop at Cowan’s Ford.
“Five years ago, we were sitting around the office talking about a golf tourney,” said Scott. “And now, this is a reality.”
by Jon Mayhew

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