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Golf for a cause

Olof Carmel PhotosDave Conklin, a Wisconsin resident and member of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, drives off the tee from an adaptive golf cart during the Mark Wellman Celebrity Golf Challenge last Friday. With Conklin are his partners from Mark Bechdolt's Mountain Pipeline. This year's event raised approximately $90,000, up from last year's $70,000.
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There were some chilly golfers playing rounds for a good cause at the Tahoe Donner Golf Course on Friday during the second annual Mark Wellman Celebrity Golf Challenge.

To be exact, 125 of them braved the conditions, slightly up from last year’s total, said event producer Mark Wellman of No Limits in Truckee.

“It was great, other than it snowed,” Wellman said of the event, which was greeted with the area’s first taste of winter weather ” snow flurries and all. “People seemed to enjoy the event. They really hung in there. It was just crazy weather, but it turned out to be a real success.”



The event was held to raise money for Disabled Sports USA Far West and No Barriers USA, a Northern California non-profit corporation dedicated to increasing active participation in the outdoors for people with disabilities.

While last year’s inaugural event raised more than $70,000 ” with proceeds going to programs that provide affordable, physical and recreational activities for the physically disabled ” Wellman said this year’s brought in approximately $90,000.




Jim Martinson, a U.S. Ski Team Paralympian Gold Medalist and first wheelchair Boston Marathon winner (as well as a double-leg amputee), was on hand for the second time in as many years.

“It was a lot of fun. They put on a great event,” said Martinson, who made the trip from Washington. “It snowed on us a little bit and when we finished the winds came in and it was incredible. I’m a diehard skier so I was thinking, ‘this is the best.'”

Patrick McDonald, the No. 1-rated wheelchair golfer in the U.S. and a paraplegic war veteran, said he was impressed with the event despite the fact that he “froze his butt off” on the greens.

“It was awesome. The second year was just as good as the first,” McDonald, an Orangevale resident, said. “I’ve never played golf in the snow before, but I had a good time. It was another well-organized event. I think there will be many more to come.”

For Martinson, the best part of the afternoon was a nice putt he guided in.

To be exact, it was “a 15- to 20-foot putt, and I made it, so that was my highlight,” he said. “But the highlight overall was that they were able to raise a lot of money for a good cause.”

No matter the weather, McDonald plans to attend again next year.

“I didn’t talk to anybody who didn’t have a good time,” he said. “If (Wellman) keeps doing what he’s doing, it’s going to continue to be successful. I already told him I’ll be there next year.”

On Thursday, the public was invited to a Meet the Celebrities reception at Old Greenwood Clubhouse in Truckee, where an array of celebrities were on hand, including McDonald and Martinson. Soldiers wounded in the Iraq war were the special-honored guests.

Some of the celebrities included Ken Bastida and Dennis O’Donnell of KPIX-TV5; Gordy Ceresino, former San Francisco 49er linebacker; Glenn Jobe, U.S. biathlon (skiing and shooting) Olympian; Bob LaPoint, world champion water skier; Jeff Float, Olympic gold medalist swimmer; Chris Griffin, U.S. Disabled Ski Team Olympian; Virgil Giovannoni, former major league baseball and NFL athlete; Jeff Hamilton, U.S. Olympic speed skier; Debbie Meyer, Olympic gold medalist swimmer; Tamara McKinney, U.S. Olympian skier; Jim Tunney, former NFL referee; Hans Standteiner, World Cup ski racer; Kristen Krone, U.S. Olympic downhill ski racer; Todd Offenbacher, RSN Resort Network personality; Fritz Vallant, Austrian Ski Team coach; Candace Cable, U.S. Paralympic cross-country and Alpine medalist; Chris Fellows, former Ski Instructors of America Demo Team Member; Bill Hudson, former U.S. Ski Team and Skiercross champion; Jim Martinson, U.S. Ski Team Paralympian gold medalist and first wheelchair Boston Marathon winner (double-leg amputee); Patrick McDonald, No. 1-rated wheelchair golfer in the U.S./disabled War Veteran (paraplegic); and Chris Schneider, disabled Iraq war veteran (leg amputee).

First-place team:

Pete Smith, Dave Alonzo, Tim Holman, Robert Holman

Celebrity: Jeff Float ( Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer , hearing impaired)

Second-place:

Greg Hovorka, Bev Murphy, Gary Schlenker, Dennis Lighthiser

Celebrity: Dennis O’Donnell ( KPIX CBS 5 San Francisco Sports Anchor)

Third-place

Bob Yoder, Bill Brown, Bruce Watkins, Hugh Williams

Celebrity: Ken Bastida ( KPIX CBS 5 San Francisco News Anchor)


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