STATE COLLEGE — The Second Mile’s summer golf tournament, which regularly features big-name Penn State athletes and annually raises more than $100,000 for underprivileged children, won’t tee off this June.
Leaders with the charity said Wednesday the Second Mile Golf Classic has been called off amid the child sex abuse case that’s enveloped the charity’s founder, Jerry Sandusky.
“I just think that with the distractions and everything else it just isn’t something that we would really have the ability to go schedule and do in that time period,” said Dave Woodle, the vice chairman of the charity’s board.
The Second Mile is operating with a smaller staff, would have had a short window to organize the event, and is focusing on figuring out its future, he said. The decision not to hold the well-known tournament shouldn’t be taken as an indication of the charity’s future, he said.
Jack Infield, a local banker who’s headed the golf tournament committee, said Second Mile leaders “didn’t feel it was that appropriate with what’s going on to have a golf tournament.” He said leaders are evaluating what programs the charity can and can’t offer.
The golf outing had been perhaps the most visible event for The Second Mile. Five years ago, Sandusky called it the charity’s “signature event.”
“The Second Mile organization has run parallel to what the golf classic has been able to generate in funds that have enabled us, as an organization, to keep our commitment to the kids,” Sandusky said at the event in 2007. “The Second Mile kids strive to overcome life’s obstacles, set challenging goals for themselves, become contributing members of their communities and proud examples of the great things that can happen when someone believes in you.”
Held over a weekend in late June each year, the tournament was on the Penn State’s Blue and White courses. To play, golfers paid hundreds of dollars that went into the charity’s coffers.
The lineup featured hundreds of golders that included a who’s who of Penn Staters and local celebrities.
Former Penn State greats Lydell Mitchell and Lenny Moore served as honorary chairmen of the event in the mid-2000s. Former linebacker Paul Posluszny attended the tourney in 2008 when he was with the Buffalo Bills.
The tournament had grown significantly from the first one in 1980, which included a handful of golfers and raised $5,625. It began attracting hundreds of golfers and, in 2000, the name of the tournament had a corporate ring to it: the Kmart-Uni-Mart Second Mile Golf Classic.
More than 700 golfers took part in 2003, and the tournament raised more than $240,000 — $120,000 after expenses — in each of the past three years.
And altogether over the past 31 years, the tournament has brought in more than $3 million.
Former Second Mile board member Jerry Fisher, who helped organize the golf tournament for almost 20 years, was disappointed it won’t be held this year.
“The Second Mile golf tournament was more about the fellowship and the ability to reconnect with old friends and socialize with them than it was about the golf itself,” Fisher said. “Even though it was called a golf classic, it became second nature for the people to come together and celebrate the success of The Second Mile and what it did for the kids.”
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616.