Former San Francisco 49er Keena Turner’s annual golf tournament is more popular than ever, which is good news for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy.
Turner’s benefit tournament drew 165 golfers, who joined the Super Bowl champion and nearly 20 of his teammates from the 49ers teams that dominated the NFL during the 1980s.
The 19th annual tournament was a chance for golfers to meet legendary players including Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott and Eric Wright, Turner’s teammates through four Super Bowl championships. They were just a few of the players who showed up for Monday’s round, and later a dinner and auction, at Ruby Hill Golf Club in Pleasanton.
“I can’t say enough about how supportive all of the guys have been over the years. Ronnie has been to just about every one. Joe’s been to maybe half,” Turner said.
“When I go over the list of guys who have been here every year and guys who have joined us along the way, or have come back when they can, it’s humbling and special.”
Former 49ers defensive back Dwight Hicks, Turner’s teammate for six years, including the 1981 and 1984 Super Bowls, said the tournament is one of his favorite benefit events, because it’s a reunion for the team.
“I get to see the teammates I played with, and some of the guys I played against during our era. We get to talk and have a good time, tell lies and tell stories that get bigger every year,” Hicks said. “We’ve got the bragging rights, because we were pretty successful.”
Lott, a 10-time Pro Bowl selection and the owner of Tracy Toyota, said he and his teammates looked forward to gathering at the charity event.
“What motivates us is Keena. Not only for what Keena has done for the team, but what he does representing the community and representing young people,” Lott said. “He has set the tone by getting all of the guys to come out, and by representing the city of Tracy. We’re all an extension of that city right now. He’s the ambassador of Tracy and has done a tremendous job.”
Turner added that while the tournament was a fun event, he couldn’t take for granted the behind-the-scenes work done by Kelly Wilson, Boys & Girls Clubs executive director, and Kelly Low, operations director, to organize the event.
“I got the easy part,” he said. “Kelly and Kelly and all of the folks there have been so committed to what we’re doing. I’m embarrassed at the small part I play compared to all of the tremendous work and effort that’s put forward.”
Low said the tournament is the club’s biggest benefit event and goes a long way toward funding the $1.6 million annual budget.
She said the club has about 2,500 members in town and sees about 700 children every day in six clubhouses around Tracy. More money would be needed to provide for more than 100 more kids who are on the waiting list to join the club.
“That really crushes us, because we know what the kids do when they’re at home,” Low said, explaining that the Boys & Girls Clubs get kids away from television and video games and into healthy habits, such as exercise and schoolwork.
Wilson said that the club encourages children to read more during the summer to prevent the learning loss that is common while they’re not in classes. She said that a successful reading program can keep students interested and successful in school.
“Helping kids become proficient readers by the end of third grade is our mission this year,” Wilson said. “The funds from this go a long way to making that happen.”
Paraaga Marathe, president of the San Francisco 49ers, said that the team was glad to put its support behind the Boys & Girls Clubs.
“I want to make sure we have representation here, because it’s important to (Turner) and it’s been such a successful event. The least we can do is support him in every way that he needs,” Marathe said.
“It really goes in line with the 49er Foundation, which has a mission of keeping kids on track and in school. This just fits right in.”
Contact Bob Brownne at email@example.com or 830-4227.