By Chandler Means
Monday, May, 18, 2020 Monday, June 22, 2020, AGAPE will host the 20th Annual AGAPE Kids Classic Golf Tournament. What a milestone! This tournament, originally known as the “AGAPE Golf Challenge,” began in 2001 as a way to raise money for children in care with special needs. The first tournament raised over $70,000. Since that humble beginning, more than 400 golfers and 3,000 donors have come together to raise over $3.5 million for children in Middle Tennessee.
The Kids Classic works as a peer-to-peer fundraising event where golfers share the AGAPE story with family, friends and others in their network to raise financial support for their team. Each team has a goal of raising at least $4,000—and some exceed that by five times or more! Last year, we had seven teams raise more than $10,000 each!
As we reflect on the history and impact of the Kids Classic, we reached out to a few of the old timers who’ve been involved in the tournament since the early days.
Troy Feltner, a Mt. Juliet resident, has played in all 19 previous Kids Classic tournaments. In 2001, he was asked by his neighbor at the time, Don Campbell, to play on his team. Troy played with Don for about five years before becoming a team captain himself. Troy has also served on the Kids Classic Leadership Committee for more than 10 years—helping to plan each tournament and recruit teams.
“The Kids Classic is an integral part of raising funds for AGAPE,” Troy said. “AGAPE carries out God’s command to care for orphans, and I’m proud to play a very small part in supporting this work.” Troy’s part is actually a little more than “small”—his team has been the highest fundraising team for six of the past seven years!
Sam Marshall, a Nashville resident, joined the 2nd Annual Kids Classic and has played in every tournament since. He, too, was invited by Don Campbell to play and says that Don is responsible for recruiting at least 15-20 of the men who have played over the years. Sam became a captain after his first year in the tournament and has also served on the Leadership Committee more than 10 years.
“The Kids Classic is important only because the work of AGAPE is important,” Sam said. “Unfortunately, there are many broken and hurting people in the world we live in. AGAPE serves as a refuge and a place of healing for these individuals, helping them find peace, healing, tools for coping and hope—all through the love of Jesus Christ. It’s no secret that providing meaningful, consistent, professional help to those in need costs money, and that’s where the Kids Classic really makes a difference.”
Rob Lyles, another long-time participant whose sons were adopted through AGAPE, said, “As both an adoptive father and a golfer, what makes the AGAPE tournament special is that the focus is not on the golf. It’s about making a difference for AGAPE.”
We’re especially grateful for the leadership and dedication behind this tournament from the start. Art Woods, AGAPE’s Director of Development from 1997–2012, and the late Tom Burton, Executive Director from 1982–2012, played a key role in building up this tournament into the event it is today, as well as many other individuals.
Over the course of the past 19 years, we’ve walked through triumph and tragedy with many of our golfers. In 2011, one of the men who played a foundational role in the success of the Kids Classic was tragically killed in a boating accident. Chris Keen lived a life of joy and compassion, and his smile was contagious. For several years, Chris served on the Kids Classic Leadership Committee, and he and his wife, Vickie, would prepare dinner for the golfers following the tournament.
In 2012, we introduced an award at the Kids Classic to honor Chris and his family, and to recognize individuals who exemplified the same qualities of love, kindness and humility as he did. We have been honored each year to have members of the Keen family attend our Celebration Dinner following the tournament to help us present the Chris Keen Heart of AGAPE Award. Listed below are past recipients of the award:
2011—Vickie, Whitney and Tucker Keen, Chris Sr. and Linda Keen
2012—Butch and Angela Stinson
2013—Tim and Angie Partlow
2018—Troy and Jennifer Nicholson and family
In 2020, AGAPE will care for more than 500 children through our foster care, adoption, domestic violence relief and professional counseling programs. This work wouldn’t be possible without the generous support we receive from so many. If you've ever had any part in the AGAPE Kids Classic—whether you’ve played in the tournament, donated to a golfer or volunteered—we express our gratitude for helping make this tournament and the work of AGAPE a success.
Oh, and by the way, a Kids Classic captain or team member may be contacting you again this year to support their team. :) Our goal for the 20th Annual Kids Classic is to raise $250,000! You can donate directly to a golfer or online. Let’s tee it up for the kids!