A sold-out fundraiser featuring Belleville golf legends Bob Goalby and Jay Haas put Belleville District 201 over the top in its effort to raise funds to improve its sports facilities.
The event, held at the St. Clair County Country Club Monday night, was the third event of its type held in an effort to raise about $1.4 million to put synthetic turf sports fields in the stadiums at Belleville East and Belleville West high schools.
Superintendent Jeff Dosier said the support of the community has been so strong that the fundraiser exceeded its goals and will allow the school system to add other amenities to its athletic venues.
The event will net $35,000 to $40,000 after donations are counted and expenses are paid, Dosier said.
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“We have reached the $1.5 million mark,” Dosier said. “We are so blessed by the generosity of this community.”
Dosier said the privately-raised funds were used to pay for new turf fields at Belleville East and Belleville West. The additional cash will be used to pay for lights for the tennis courts at Belleville West and permanent bleachers and a concession stand at Belleville East.
We have reached the $1.5 million mark. We are so blessed by the generosity of this community.
Jeff Dosier, superintendent Belleville District 201
Goalby, whose crowning achievement in his professional golf career was winning the 1968 Masters championship, said he got his start playing sports in District 201 as a member of his high school football team. According to Dosier, Goalby has been giving back to local schools ever since.
“I remember when I played that we didn’t get much time to get on the field where we played our games because they had to protect it,” Goalby said. “It was really something special to be able to be out there.
“These new turf fields can handle so much more use that football teams can practice out there and kids in other sports and in the marching band can use them, too,” Goalby said. “It’s a real benefit for these athletes to have a nice place to play.”
Haas, Goalby’s nephew, joined the Professional Golfers Association tour in 1976 and won nine championships on that circuit before joining the Champions Tour in 2004. He’s won 17 events playing at that level. But Haas said serving as 2015 Presidents Cup team captain was one of the most rewarding events of his career.
Haas told the crowd the Presidents Cup battle started with pressure as he named his son, professional golfer Bill Haas, as a member of the team. Though he was certain it was the right thing to do, based on performance, the elder Haas said he feared a loss in the tournament would bring criticism upon his son.
Haas gave a blow-by-blow replay of the tournament during his time at the podium, which included the United States team staging a furious comeback and eventually winning the event against the best golfers from Asia, North America and South America by a final score of 15 1/2-14 1/2.
Haas said he hoped the people at the fundraiser enjoyed the event as much as he enjoyed being back in the place where he grew up.
“Just driving down the street and seeing the old places made my heart flip,” Haas said. “I have a tremendous fondness for this place. I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have without this place and the people who live here.”