AJGA, USGA Honor Volunteers
July 3, 2008
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Braselton, Ga. - Smylie Kaufman of Birmingham, Ala., and Kelsey Conway of Ventura, Calif., were presented the 2008 Presidents' Youth Leadership Award Thursday at the Rolex Tournament of Champions at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind.
The award was created to recognize one boy and one girl AJGA member who demonstrate leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the USGA-AJGA Youth Leadership Club - a joint initiative founded in 2006 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism.
"This year's recipients demonstrate the exact qualities we envisioned when our two Associations created this initiative," AJGA Board President Gayle Champagne said. "In its short history, the USGA-AJGA Youth Leadership Club continues to support and motivate junior golfers from around the world to give back to their communities."
"The exemplary commitment to service demonstrated by Kelsey and Smylie stands out among their peers," said USGA President Jim Vernon. "Each invested their time and energy to support important causes. The USGA is proud to honor their hard work and dedication that sets a standard to which other junior golfers can aspire to reach in their own communities."
Conway has been an avid golfer since her father introduced her to the sport at age eight. Since then, Conway has been recognized both as a talented player and as a philanthropist. She has been actively involved with the Ventura County Special Olympics, The First Tee of Ventura Country, Ventura County Medical Center and the National Charity League.
Her efforts to better the world through volunteerism have spread throughout her circle of friends and her community. Conway's involvement with the Special Olympics has caused an increase in the organization's volunteer rate because of her positive attitude and her outreach to the community.
"The work I've done and the people I've worked with teach me important life skills, like patience and perseverance," Conway said Thursday. "I want others to get the same feeling of satisfaction that I get - the sense that you made a difference in someone's life."
Kaufman earned the award for creating Kids vs. Cancer, a fundraising charity that assists the pediatric cancer unit at the Children's Hospital of Alabama. In 2006, Kaufman's neighborhood was disheartened as four children under the age of seven had been diagnosed with cancer over the past few years. Two have passed away and two are still fighting. Seeing children battle cancer fueled Smylie and his brother Luckie to generate the Kids vs. Cancer campaign.
It began simply, with the Kaufmans staging a 100-hole golf marathon and raising $18,000 in 2006. The brothers have since recruited more junior golfers across the state to get involved in the effort and Kids vs. Cancer has netted more than $51,000 for cancer research.
"It's great to see the program grow throughout Alabama," Kaufman said. "In some of my AJGA events this year, I've been able to meet players from all over the country willing to grow the program nationally, which is the next step.
"There's no doubt that this charity is helping both the patients and their parents," he continued. "Sometimes it's just a look, but you can tell with something that simple that you've made a difference."
As recipients of this honor, Conway and Kaufman will each receive four tickets to a United States Open of their choice and access to the USGA hospitality tent during the championship. They also will receive an invitation to play in the 2008 Rolex Tournament of Champions - the AJGA's longest-running tournament and one of the nation's most prestigious junior golf events.
About The USGA
The USGA is the national governing body of golf in this country and Mexico, a combined territory that includes more than half the game's golfers and golf courses.
The USGA's most visible role is played out each season in conducting 13 national championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open. Ten additional USGA national championships are exclusively for amateurs, and include the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women's Amateur.
The USGA also writes the Rules of Golf, conducts equipment testing, maintains an official Handicap System and administers an ongoing grants program, which has allocated more than $62 million since 1997 to programs that bring golf and its values to young people and individuals with disabilities. For more information about the USGA, visit www.usga.org.
About The AJGA
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.
The largest Association of its kind, the AJGA has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the AJGA's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
For more information, please contactSteveEthun(email@example.com) in the AJGA Communications Department at(678)571-7994, or visit the AJGA Web site atajga.org.