Fire Department Golf Supports Volunteerism


Fire Department Golf Supports Volunteerism


golfgreen120No green jackets. No whispering announcers. No pressure. Just a fun day of golf.  August 30th the Lansing Fire Department will hold its 18th annual Joe 'Diddy' Joseph golf tournament.  The tournament is the department's primary fundraising event to fund the Joe Joseph Award, a scholarship given to a graduating Lansing senior each year to encourage volunteerism.

"The proceeds go to support a Lansing High School senior who has exhibited outstanding volunteerism in our community, preferably in the areas of rescue or fire service," says organizer Frank Towner.  "It's a $1,000 scholarship to college.  The money from the golf tournament goes into a pot and we give that money out every year."

This year's recipient was Ryan Marzlof.  Marzlof volunteers for the Lansing Fire Department and has logged over 100 hours in training and emergency calls over the past year.  He earned his NYS Emergency Medical Technician certification this summer, and is Lansing's newest bunker.  Bunkers are volunteer emergency responders who live at a fire station to provide faster emergency call responses.  His father works for Bangs Ambulance.

Joe 'Diddy' Joseph volunteered as a fire fighter in the Lansing Fire Department for more than 50 years. Towner says he was a trend setter who was willing to go the extra mile to get the job done.  He was the department's 'go-to' person, and was an accomplished community liaison.

"That's why he was chosen years ago when we started this golf tournament," Towner says.

Towner was part of the original group that founded the tournament.  When he joined the department 18 years ago he learned there were a lot of golfers in the department. 

"I said we should have a golf tournament," he says.  "They said 'if you want to run one, OK.'  Now we're in the midst of our 18th year."

Chief Chris Burris suggested the tournament be held in honor of Joseph, who had recently passed away.

The tournament, held every year at the Stonehenges Golf Course, is open to anybody who wants to play.  Sponsors provide some of the money with the rest coming from entry fees.  A $1,000 sponsor gets to enter a foursome, and a $500 sponsor gets a twosome.  Entry fees run $75 per player or $280 for a team of four.  The price of entry gets you 18 holes of golf, a golf cart and a steak dinner.

Secondary games will be spread along the course.  For example, for $20 per team players can roll dice.  Whatever number is rolled allows the player to get that many yards closer to the hole.

"It's for bragging rights," Towner says. "There is no money given to anybody who plays.  It's very low key.  We don't get a lot of prizes or plaques.  We've always focussed on raising the money for scholarships."

The tournament has attracted between 52 and 103 golfers each year.  Towner says his ideal number would be 72 people or 18 teams, one team for each hole.  he says that is enough to raise the money needed without over-taxing the players and the course.  The department holds the money separate for the scholarship so they can supplement monies raised if needed. 

The event has raised over $10,000.00 over its history. This year Towner hopes to raise $1500.00. He says that as long as the tournament raises between $700 and $1,200 each year it will insure the department will continue to be able to give the $1,000 scholarship.

Some golfers play every year. Golfers come from the King Ferry department and Bangs Ambulance, and of course Lansing Fire Department teams.  Locke Fire Department members have played every single year since the tournament was founded.

"One year they even had a fire the morning before the event, and they still showed up," Towner says. "It's been very good.  We like to give back to the community, something we know is important to do, and we feel compelled to do that."

He adds that says that keeping the tournament simple and consistant boosts participation without stressing volunteer resources that are already committed to fire fighting and medical emergencies.

"We play for the fun of it," Towner says. "This is really a fun tournament.  Anybody can play.  You don't need to be a golfer as much as come and hit a few balls around.  Some people can putt... they can get on the green and putt. It is most exciting to see all the people come together who know what we do and are out to have some fun."

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