Memorial golf tournament to honor Meriden, Wallingford men

Memorial golf tournament to honor Meriden, Wallingford men

reporter photo

MERIDEN — A day of golfing, dining and fundraising is planned for this weekend at events organized by House of Hope, a nonprofit group that grew out of a Relay for Life team.

An 18-hole golf tournament is scheduled for Saturday at Hunter Memorial Golf Club, with a dinner following at Meriden YMCA’s Mountain Mist Outdoor Center.

This is the fourth year the group has organized the golf tournament, which is in memory of Rick Garrison, a Wallingford firefighter who died in 2013, and Jim Donnan, a House of Hope team member who died in 2014, both of cancer.

The registration deadline has passed for golf, but tickets for the dinner are still for sale at $30 per person.

Patti Townsend, event organizer, said Monday that 144 people signed up to golf, making another sold-out year for the tournament. About 20 people have signed up for the dinner, which is slated to feature raffle prizes.

The nonprofit organization House of Hope formed two years ago out of a Relay for Life team that’s been around for more than 20 years, We R House of Hope, Townsend said.

“It’s truly a labor of love,” Townsend said. “Some of us have been with the team for that length of time.”

She said the 12-member team decided to form a nonprofit because they wanted to continue to support the American Cancer Association, the organization which Relay for Life benefits, but expand to raise funds for the community.

House of Hope has organized other events, like setback tournaments and horseshoes, throughout the year to raise funds. The group has donated $2,000 educational scholarships at the Meriden high schools, as well as $2,000 donations to Meriden and Wallingford youth sports teams.

Robin Garrison, Rick Garrison’s wife, said House of Hope organized a benefit event when her husband was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009.

Rick Garrison served as a firefighter for 26 years with the Wallingford Fire Department and coached youth hockey with the Wallingford Hawks and at Sheehan High School.

FILE PHOTO: Rick Garrison, a firefighter in Wallingford, talks with students at Rock Hill School, October 2008. | Record-Journal archives

After receiving chemotherapy at MidState Medical Center, Rick Garrison entered remission. He decided to organize a poker run to benefit MidState and also worked with SWIM Across the Sound to benefit St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, since that hospital offers financial assistance to police and first responders.

The cancer reemerged in 2012, and he died Jan. 26, 2013, at age 53.

“My children and I decided that we were going to stick with the poker run to keep his memory alive,” said Robin Garrison, a clerk and loan officer at the Cornerstone Community Credit Union in Wallingford.

As the years went by, Garrison said, fewer people came to the poker runs, so last year she reached out to House of Hope to volunteer, since they had been doing the golf tournament in his name.

“I enjoyed it last year,” she said. “It was beautiful. I just enjoy being with people, so I was glad to volunteer with something that was also keeping my husband’s memory alive.”

Donnan, who grew up in North Haven and lived in Meriden, died Nov. 14, 2014, at age 53, according to his obituary.

To register for the fundraising dinner on Saturday, contact Townsend at 203-815-9648.
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