Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis will be among friends and guests on Friday for the 10th annual charity golf tournament bearing his name, the John Chavis East Tennessee Golf Classic, the proceeds for which go toward the Tennessee Children’s Home.
Taking in boys ranging from ages 13-18, the Tennessee Children’s home helps for children who are unable to receive foster care for various reasons. With four sites across the state, the organization also operates an accredited on-site campus complete with principals, teachers and assistants.
“There’s so many kids out there,” Chavis told SEC Country. “Sometimes until you get educated on it, you don’t realize how many kids that are in situations where the state has a tough time placing and finding homes for them. They have had great success in getting young people to come there and leave as great citizens.”
Not only does the event help raise awareness among participants in the tournament, but it also helps improve the education of the young men in the program.
“The majority of boys who come into our program are behind in grade level,” said Children’s Home board member Conrad Slate. “In almost every instance, when they leave the program, they are at grade level. The reason is we have teachers who are dedicated. We can’t do that without this kind of income from the golf classic.“
When the tournament officially began, it did not bear a namesake and was a fairly small-time operation.
“(Originally) it was just a golf tournament for the children’s home,” Chavis’ son C. John told SEC Country. “It was associated with the church that I still attend in Knoxville, and my parents attended when they lived there. It’s something that they wanted to help with and once you got involved with it, you see the good it does. How it brings in funds and helps affect the lives of the kids who live in this place for a while. It’s a fun activity and gets a lot of people involved. That’s why we want to be involved with it.”
And thus, the tournament began to display the name of Chavis, a former Tennessee walk-on and longtime defensive coordinator. As more and more people get involved by the year, donations have increased considerably. Auction items ranging from signed helmets and jerseys to footballs and gloves are donated by former players of Chavis and supporters of the cause, with every penny funneled back into the children’s home.
The auction will follow the golf tournament while pizza is provided to the guests. Items up for bid include signed jerseys from coach Kevin Sumlin and Broncos linebacker Von Miller as well as a signed football from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While the goal of the tournament is to raise money while having a great time and creating fond memories, it isn’t the only available window to provide support.
“Anybody that has a desire to make a donation, we will take donations at any time,” Chavis said. “The tournament is to draw recognition, but the main focus is to help them continue to grow and help more kids that really don’t have anywhere else to go.”
An event that played host to fewer than sixty golfers in its inaugural campaign plans to entertain roughly 120 participants operating in four-person teams when things kick off Friday morning.
“We never know who is going to show up to be truthful with you,” said Loy Molchan, Head of Development for the East Tennessee campus. “Phil Fulmer was a regular, there’s a chance he could be there again this year. Even if you can’t play, no amount is too small to donate. We are all here to help change the lives of children.”
Chavis tries to play a hole with every team participating in the tournament located at the Avalon Golf and Country Club in Lenoir City, Tennessee, and plenty of familiar faces are found walking along the greens.
“There’s a lot of Tennessee people that have been there since day one,” said Chavis. “We have a strong LSU presence. Those folks have not left. It doesn’t matter what color I am wearing. They are there because they want to support the cause and support the Children’s Home. For the second year there are a great number of Aggies involved. That’s what makes it neat. It’s not about me; it’s about what can be done for those kids that need somewhere to live and grow and somebody to be parents for them.”
You can follow the John Chavis Golf Classic on Twitter here, or click this link to check out the Facebook page. The official page from the Tennessee Children’s Home, which includes event contact information, can be found here.
— John Chavis GolfClsc (@ChavisGolf) June 6, 2016