Friday, August 15, 2014

One year after the fire, Killebrew-Thompson stands strong

Cancer benefit golf tourney starts next Wednesday

Express Staff Writer

     One year ago today, the wind-blown Beaver Creek Fire burned into the Imperial Gulch side drainage of Greenhorn Gulch—endangering homes and lives, and racheting the danger of the situation way up.

     And one year ago Sunday, Hailey’s Carbonate Mountain went up in flames in the early morning hours as residents jammed the streets and watched the wildfire threaten the county’s biggest city.

     It’s now a summer when the Wood River Valley has been blessed with moisture instead of besieged by raging wildfire.

     Yet it’s easy to remember a fire ignited by lightning last Aug. 7 that stretched to burn 174 square miles. The Beaver Creek Fire cost over $23 million to fight and impacted everybody’s lives in the valley.

     One of the events the Beaver Creek Fire canceled was late August’s Killebrew-Thompson Memorial golf tournament at Sun Valley. Although the golf wasn’t played and the social activities were wiped out, the tournament’s committed sponsors still stepped up and donated about $400,000 to the cause.

     The tournament that raises money for leukemia and cancer research has bounced back this year and will be held Aug. 20-23 with a full field of about 200 golfers on the resort courses at Sun Valley and Elkhorn.

     In a written statement prefacing this year’s 38th annual tournament handbook, Killebrew-Thompson board chairman Wally Huffman said, “Last year the tournament competition took a hiatus because of the forest fire and a good time of fellowship and humor was very much missed.”

     “However,” he continued, “sponsorships were honored, entry fees as well and the tournament raised $400,000 to donate to cancer research. This is a great testimony to the strength of the cause and the commitment of its supporters.”

     Newly-named Killebrew-Thompson tournament executive director Dayna Buxton of Sun Valley said Wednesday about the expectations for 2014, “We have a full field this year. All of our sponsors and participants are very excited.”

     The tournament has always maintained a strong link to the community, as evidenced by the fact that it was never been staged anywhere else and it maintains a committed roster of helpers led by Debbie Exley, the volunteer coordinator.

     Fittingly, it has recognized the efforts of firefighters by allotting two tournament spots to local firemen, Buxton said.

     “We have reached out to the local fire departments and will have two representatives in our tournament from local firemen—to thank them for all the work done during the Beaver Creek Fire. They will participate in our golf and social activities next week,” she said.


Changes at the top, Boehner due to make stop

     Buxton has taken over the duties of outgoing executive director Georgie Fenton of Ketchum, who is stepping aside after 20 years of association with the Killebrew-Thompson.

     From 2006-11, Buxton worked for The Pebble Beach Co. in California rising from recruitment intern to event coordinator. She is a 2006 college graduate of Cal Poly San Obispo (Ca.) with a specialty in Special Event Management.

     The new Killebrew-Thompson event coordinator is Hannah Stauts of Sun Valley, a Boise State University graduate and Montana State masters graduate who has served as City of Sun Valley city clerk. At the age of 22 in 2006, Stauts was elected mayor of Stanley, Idaho—becoming the youngest female mayor in U.S. history.

     Fenton, tournament president and executive director since 1997, is remaining as president and is helping out with the transition to Buxton. Fenton said, “It’s time for someone else to take over.”

     In 2005, Fenton earned the tournament’s Chairman Award established in 1986 by Brad Corbett to honor individuals who have made a significant effort to promote the Killebrew-Thompson. Recent winners were Chris Berman in 2012 and Harmon Killebrew in 2011.

     Former Texas Rangers baseball principal owner Corbett Sr., who died at 75 on Christmas Eve 2012, was due to be honored with a special tribute during last year’s Killebrew-Thompson. He will be remembered as the gathering reassembles in 2014 with several of his family members attending.

     About Corbett, Fenton said last year, “A kind and thoughtful man with a big heart and a soft spot for the work of this organization, he was without a doubt a major force in its formation and its great success along the way.”

     Fenton confirmed Wednesday that U.S. Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to make the Killebrew-Thompson part of his busy August bus tour during the congressional recess. It’s been several years since Boehner attended the Killebrew-Thompson tourney.

     Boehner, 64, the 61st Speaker of the House who has served Ohio as a representative since 1991, is barnstorming this month to help raise money for House Republicans in their election bids this fall.

     The four-day event begins Wednesday, Aug. 20 with an 8 p.m. benefit concert at Sun Valley Pavilion by The Doobie Brothers, a four-time Grammy Award-winning band first formed in 1969. Their summer tour started June 17 in Texas and ends Sept. 1 in Syracuse.

     Reserved seating is sold at Sun Valley Recreation Center in Sun Valley Village, online at or by calling 622-2135. Doors open at 7 p.m. Some pavilion tickets remain, as do $35 adult and $10 child general admission tickets on the lawn area.


Tournament details

     Baseball Hall of Fame slugger Killebrew, who died in 2011, co-founded the Danny Thompson Memorial golf tournament with business partner Ralph Harding in 1977. In 2012 the tourney was renamed the Killebrew-Thompson.

     Infielder Danny Thompson was a Minnesota Twins teammate of Killebrew. After Thompson died of leukemia in 1976 at 29, Killebrew and Harding founded the tourney to aid leukemia research.

     In 37 years, the Killebrew-Thompson has raised $13.1 million for cancer research, split between Univ. of Minnesota-Masonic Cancer Research Center in Minneapolis ($6.64 million) and St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI) of Boise ($6.47 million).

     Fundraising totals are leveraged in matching funds and grants to produce greater numbers. So, the $13.1 million total over 37 years has been leveraged to over $26 million.

     Net proceeds for leukemia research from last year’s tournament were $400,000. Since MSTI opened in 1969, it has become Idaho’s largest provider of cancer care services. The Killebrew-Thompson golf tournament has become an integral part of MSTI’s fundraising.

     As Jeff Cilek, a St. Luke’s Health System vice president said, “The support and commitment from the Killebrew-Thompson Memorial golf tournament to St. Luke’s MSTI is so very much appreciated and invaluable to the continuation of leukemia and cancer clinical research at MSTI.”

      A social and fund-raising highlight is the 19th annual Killebrew-Thompson Memorial live and silent auction Friday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Limelight Room of Sun Valley Inn. Auctioneer is Larry Flynn.

     This year’s live auction items include trips to Mexico, Las Vegas, Maui, France and to the Kentucky Derby; art work and jewelry; motorcycle, an autographed Keith Urban guitar; shotgun; snowmobile; and golf fitting for two.

     Silent auction items include autographed baseballs from Mike Trout and Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels; tickets to the Gator Bowl; fur coat; wine; a Joe Washington autographed Heisman Trophy football; autographed baseballs from Rod Carew; artwork prints from Brooks Robinson and local photographer Kirk Anderson.


Celebrities, politicians due

     Football’s Joe Washington and Jerry Kramer, baseball’s Brooks Robinson and Bobby Grich, and 33-year-old professional golfer Mike Lavery from California are among the sports figures expected.

     Other well-known figures expected are baseball player Jim Nettles; ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman; Idaho musician Muzzie Braun; Minnesota-born actor Kevin Sorbo, 55, the television “Hercules”; and John Barrett, host of the long-running outdoors TV series “Fly Fishing the World.”

     Here are capsules of celebs:

     · Brooks Robinson, 77, of Little Rock, Ark., is considered baseball’s all-time greatest third baseman. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1983 after a matchless 23-year career with the Baltimore Orioles. He batted .267 with 2,848 hits in 2,896 games from 1955-77, all with the Baltimore Orioles.

     · Bobby Grich, 65, played 17 American League seasons for Baltimore and the California Angels from 1970-86 and logged a .266 career batting average in 2,008 games.

     · Joe Washington, 60, a native of Crockett, Texas, was a two-time All-American running back at the University of Oklahoma, a program that won national titles in 1974-75 with Washington doing this thing.

     · Jerry Kramer, 78, a Montana native and University of Idaho graduate, is considered the best player who hasn’t yet been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 11-year offensive guard for the Green Bay Packer from 1958-68 and five-time All-Pro pick is the only member of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team who is not in the football shrine.

     Kramer was the Packers left guard on the Packers team that won three straight NFL championships for legendary coach Vince Lombardi from 1965-67.

     · Jim Nettles, 67, of San Diego, is the younger brother of New York Yankees third sacker Graig Nettles. Lefty Jim Nettles played for the Minnesota Twins from 1970-72 and ended his six-year major league career with Oakland in 1981.

     · Bill Buckner, 63, from Vallejo, Ca., had 2,715 hits and lifetime .289 average in a 1969-90 major league career.

     Besides Speaker Boehner, Thompson national politicians due in 2014 are Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Id.); Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-Ky.); Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah); and Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa).

     Retired legislators attending include Dan Burton, 75, a 30-year U.S. House Republican from Indiana through 2013, and Thompson board member Charles Stenholm, 65, a U.S. House Democrat from 1979-2005.


Spectators are welcome

     Spectators are invited to watch and, when appropriate, ask for autographs. Check the pairing sheets at the golf pro shops to see where your favorite golfer is playing.

     The tournament format is four-person two-best ball over two days.

     Here is the schedule:

     Wednesday, Aug. 20: Benefit concert featuring The Doobie Brothers at 8 p.m., Sun Valley Pavilion. VIP benefit concert cocktail party there at 6:30 p.m.

     Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 20-21: Registration 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on the Sun Valley Inn Limelight Room terrace and promenade. Practice rounds today and Thursday on the Sun Valley and Elkhorn golf courses.

     Thursday, Aug. 21: Western-style welcome barbecue 6 p.m. on the Trail Creek Cabin grounds.

     Friday, Aug. 22: First 18-hole round of the Thompson Memorial tourney, with 9 a.m. shotgun starts at Sun Valley and Elkhorn. Ladies luncheon/fashion show 11:30 a.m.

     Cocktails and auction dinner at 6 p.m. in the Limelight Room of Sun Valley Inn.

     Saturday, Aug. 23: Final 18-hole round of the Thompson Memorial, 9 a.m. shotgun starts on the Elkhorn and Sun Valley courses. Ladies have a nine-hole scramble golf tournament at 10 a.m. at Bigwood Golf Course.

     Awards reception 4-6 p.m. on the Sun Valley Clubhouse deck.



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