Johnson, Calamaro To Receive Presidents’ Leadership Award
Junior golfers honored for service to their communities
Braselton, Ga. – Drew Johnson of Oak Ridge, N.C., and Jacqueline Calamaro of Newtown Square, Pa., are the 2010 recipients of the Presidents’ Leadership Award, the American Junior Golf Association and United States Golf Association announced Thursday.
Drew Johnson has put in more than 1,000
volunteer hours and created his own junior,
Calamaro and Johnson will be honored by USGA President Jim Hyler and AJGA Board of Directors President Gayle Champagne during the Rolex Dinner of Champions July 1 at the Rolex Tournament of Champions at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark. Additionally, they will each receive four tickets to a U.S. Open of their choice, access to the USGA hospitality tent during the U.S. Open, and an automatic entry into the 2010 Rolex Tournament of Champions – the most prestigious junior golf stroke-play event in the country.
Drew Johnson And The Special Olympics
At just 15, Drew Johnson has already learned the value of giving back and speaks with wisdom beyond his years. In his seven years volunteering with the Special Olympics of North Carolina, Johnson has put in more than 1,000 volunteer hours and created his own junior golf event.
“Putting others first, especially those who need a helping hand, has been the most rewarding thing in golf so far,” Johnson said in his application letter. “I would rather say when my playing days are over that I have given back to folks like those in Special Olympics than talk about tournament wins.”
Johnson’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. In each of the three years he has been playing AJGA tournaments, Johnson has earned an honorable mention for the Presidents’ Leadership Award. This year, Johnson will be honored with the 2010 Presidents’ Leadership Award for his tireless commitment and service to the Greensboro Special Olympics Golf Team.
Johnson first got involved with the Special Olympics when he was eight years old. A family friend was part of the Greensboro Special Olympics Golf Team that practiced at the same driving range where he often played. He quickly learned that he already had things in common with the players. They all loved the game of golf and loved competing.
Johnson’s involvement began simply by getting players water, teeing up their golf balls and cheering for their shots. As he got older, Johnson wanted a more influential role with the organization and took on a coaching position, which he holds today, spending his Monday nights coaching 30 Special Olympians.
“This is what makes golf different than any other sport,” he said. “In golf, we put others first. We cheer for our competitors. We protect the integrity of the tournaments with our attitudes and our honesty in keeping correct scores and playing by the rules. We give back.”
Johnson’s impact on the organization extends beyond the time he spends coaching. His parents challenged him to find other ways to get involved and in 2003, he organized the Drew Johnson Kids that Care junior golf event, which has raised more than $23,000 in support of the Greensboro Special Olympics Golf Team. Most of the players were using hand-me-down clubs that did not fit them and the team lacked funding for travel expenses. With the money raised by the event, the team can purchase golf equipment and pay to travel to the North Carolina State Games. For the past two years, the tournament has also been ranked by the Carolinas Golf Association.
Johnson’s work has caught the eye of other leaders in the industry.
“We can take pride in the realization that young Americans like Drew have what it takes to mold more into givers, not takers,” said Joe Steranka, CEO of the PGA of America, in a letter to the selection committee. “Drew Johnson may well be the best caddie anywhere when it comes to serving Special Olympians.”
Johnson’s attitude and commitment to his volunteer work will hopefully influence others to donate time in their local communities. Having accomplished so much at only 15 years old, it’s clear there are big things in store for Johnson.
“Drew is an inspiration to youth golfers as well as Special Olympic athletes,” said Charyl Clark, director of Special Olympics Greensboro. “His generosity and dedication to Special Olympics has proven that regardless of age, anyone can make a difference in the lives of others.”
While Johnson hopes to play professional golf someday, he plans to continue to support the Special Olympics regardless of his career path.
In April, Jacqueline Calamaro organized a Golf-a-thon at
Walnut Lane Golf Club in Philadelphia.
“I want to get as many juniors as possible involved in Special Olympics,” Johnson said. “I have always felt that getting involved in helping others is an important thing. All of us have a responsibility to give back in some way.”
Jacqueline Calamaro’s Golf-A-Thon
Nine hours, forty minutes. That’s how long it took Jacqueline Calamaro to play 102 holes of golf at Walnut Lane Golf Club.
Calamaro has a long history of community service, but when she took on her senior project – a requirement in the state of Pennsylvania – Jacqueline went above and beyond to help The First Tee of Philadelphia.
A talented golfer and three-year captain of her high school golf team, Calamaro used her senior project to combine two of her passions in life – golf and volunteerism.
In April, Calamaro organized a Golf-a-thon at Walnut Lane Golf Club in Philadelphia, in which she and Radnor High School teammate Jin Hwang committed to play 100 holes in a day. They took pledges and donations for each hole played, and after many miles walked were able to donate more than $7,400 to The First Tee of Philadelphia for a new practice facility.
“It’s such an honor to receive this award,” Calamaro said. “Even though it started out as a required project, the Golf-a-thon became a labor of love. It’s probably better than any golf accomplishment I could have ever achieved.”
While just under 10 hours were actually spent on the golf course, Calamaro spent nearly 100 hours organizing the event. With the help of Hwang and Radnor High School Golf Coach Andy Achenbach, Calamaro passed out fliers, alerted media outlets, and used the contacts she had made through the Pennsylvania Women’s Golf Association and Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia to spread the word of the Golf-a-thon.
“I set a goal of $10,000,” said Calamaro. “I knew this would be a stretch, but The First Tee of Philadelphia is a worthy cause.”
When the day of the big event rolled around, playing the golf was the easy part. While Calamaro said she had never played more than 45 holes in a day, she completed 102 on April 10, 2010.
Due to the success of the Golf-a-thon, it has now become the suggested senior project for all future Radnor High School golf team captains, meaning Calamaro’s original goal could be met and surpassed in the coming years.
But more important, Calamaro said, “Those of us who have been blessed through the game of golf will have the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way that impacts the lives of young people.”
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 AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 30 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
Titleist, the AJGA’s National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association’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. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 400 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Stewart Cink, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel.