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Area golf tourney raising funds to assist area cancer patients

Stephen Igo • Jun 19, 2014 at 3:14 PM

BIG STONE GAP -- An annual golf tournament that raises funds to assist area cancer patients reports success from the latest round at Lonesome Pine Country Club on June 6.

The Harold Lester Memorial Golf Tournament supports the Harold Lester Memorial Fund, a program of Mountain Empire Older Citizens, Inc.'s Mountain Laurel Cancer Support and Resource Center.

As of Thursday, MEOC reports $10,852.83 has been raised as a result of the golf tournament, with more donations coming in. MEOC Executive Director Michael Wampler said every penny will be used to help individuals from Lee, Scott and Wise counties, and the City of Norton, dealing with cancer.

The support fund is used to help meet unexpected needs of cancer patients not addressed by other resources. The fund was founded in 2011 by the family and friends of the late Harold Lester, a well known educator in Wise County Public Schools devoted to helping family, friends and neighbors.

"I can think of no more appropriate way to honor the memory of my father," said tournament organizer Mark Lester. "He cared about people and quietly did much to make life better for many. He understood what a toll -- physically, spiritually and financially -- a diagnosis of cancer takes on individuals and families. He lost his own battle with cancer. The Harold Lester memorial Fund keeps his memory and his work alive."

There were 18 teams participating in this year's golf tournament, an event with special meaning to all involved. Wampler said this year's tournament was particularly meaningful as staff members of MEOC and the Harold Lester Memorial Golf Planning Committee continue to mourn the loss of a long time employee and friend, Leigh Ann Kennedy Bolinskey, who died of cancer on May 6.

"During her 13 year tenure at MEOC, Leigh Ann served as the director of the Mountain Laurel Cancer Support and Resource Center inspiring, enriching and encouraging cancer patients of all ages who, like herself, were facing one of the biggest battles of their lives," Wampler said.

"Leigh Ann was instrumental in planning and coordinating the Harold Lester Memorial Golf Tournament from the beginning. Leigh Ann was honored on this year's golf hat that was distributed to all golfers prior to the (start) of the tournament."

The tournament's three flights were named for the county school district's three high school mascots. Winning teams in the Spartan flight were David Perry, Greg Perry and Butch Goodnough; in the Bear flight, Paxton Wright, Drew Crabtree, Snuffy Smith and Jon Day; and in the Warrior flight, Jerry Keene, Brent Allen, Brett Moore and Jon Morgan Keene.

To make a donation to the Harold Lester Memorial Fund, or any of the services of the Mountain Laurel Cancer Center, contact MEOC at 276-523-4202.

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