BY PAT ANDREWS
You might say that Dolores Pfeffer was “tickled pink” when the numbers started rolling in. The Grosse Ile resident has been working tirelessly for all 25 years of the Women’s Health Care Golf Classic — first under the auspices of Oakwood and now as Beaumont — and if there is such a thing as a perfect day, June 12 was it.
In the past, she has battled weather and golf course conditions. She has gone in search of sponsors at every level of giving and auction item donors to provide that extra boost in raising funds. And, she will say, “could not have done it without my Downriver committee people and my friends.”
Under the Oakwood umbrella, Pfeffer was a vice chair for eight years with Jan Fitzgerald, wife of former Oakwood President, Jerry Fitzgerald. The past six years she has shared the chairman’s role with Nancy and Bob Zakar, Dearborn residents.
This year the event took place at two courses — Dearborn Country Club, where the men and women identified as Friends of the Women’s Health Care Classic teed off at 9 a.m. The women only event was held at Grosse Ile Golf and Country Club with an exercise warm-up at 9 a.m., followed by a 10:30 a.m. start. In all there were 185 golfers participating.
Because this was an anniversary year, the Dearborn golfers travelled over to the island for a celebration with cocktails, seated dinner, awards ceremony and silent and live auctions. Pfeffer learned of the closing of the free bridge to Grosse Ile a few days before the event.
“It was for a Wayne County inspection, we were told,” said Pfeffer. “That is when we had to scramble to get the word out.”
Golfers and volunteers could get to the club prior to 9 a.m. before the bridge closed until 4 p.m. It opened again from 4 to 6 p.m., and then closed again from 6 to 9 p.m.
Pfeffer said the Beaumont event staff sent out all the information about use of the toll bridge, including fees and which lanes to use.
“Just a little glitch, but I don’t think anyone got lost or it deterred them from coming over to mark this occasion.”
She also noted that the virtual sea of pink decorations warmed over the hearts of anyone who may have had to wait in a line to access the island.
Monies taken in versus expenses are still being counted, but the amount appears to be well over $200,000, according to Marti Drabing, senior associate director of special events at Beaumont.
In the previous 24 years of the classic, more than $6 million has been raised for patients and programs at the now Beaumont Hospitals in Dearborn, Taylor, Trenton and Wayne. Major sponsors again this year were Drs. Harris, Birkhill, Wang, Songe and Associates of Dearborn, and Karen Wilson Smithbauer of Grosse Ile, who has personally endowed breast cancer treatment centers at the facilities in Dearborn and Trenton.
Smithbauer also has established the Rose Fund, named for her mother, the late Rose Ella Burkhardt. Monies are used to fund treatment, follow-up care and support for the underinsured and uninsured patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Jan Fitzgerald, a Novi resident, lends her name and money raising talents to another fund, this one for cancer screenings and support for local patients in the breast care program.
For Pfeffer and her loyal volunteers, the Classic provides much-needed “extras.” She added that sometimes it is just a simple thing like a wig.
“It makes me feel wonderful that someone with cancer will not have that extra worry and expense.”
The Classic is currently funding a nurse navigator system whereby a medical professional will guide the patient every step of the way during her treatments.
“A diagnosis is enough to think about. You don’t know where to turn and what to do next. The navigator is a Godsend, Pfeffer said.”
Proven to be one of the most popular events in the now combined Oakwood/Beaumont system, Drabing said people are already signing up to be on board for the 26-year event next June. And she will be checking out bridges…