Tuesday, January 17, 2012
McKinney disc golf tournament raises money for wounded veterans
Proceeds of this year's tournament were donated to the Texas Sentinel Foundation.
Alex Clark used to wonder why his favorite disc golf course had just nine holes. There could be more.
People can always do more.
It wasn't until he died in a car wreck in 2000 that some of those people realized his wonder.
"Pay it forward -- that's just kind of how Alex lived his life," said his mother, Roberta, who soon after his death went to work on expanding the McKinney course.
Alex was three weeks from graduating high school when tragedy struck, so friends and mourners were aplenty. Roberta and Alex's father, John, held the memorial service at the tree-laden course, just west of U.S. Highway 75.
Months later, the Clarks worked with the city to add nine holes and complete what, in a lot of ways, Alex started. It's now called Alex Clark Memorial Disc Golf Course.
A sculpture stakes the course, which winds around Valley Creek Trail toward the center of McKinney. "Pay it Forward" reads on a plaque below Alex's initials, A.M.C.
"We looked all over the country for something that would represent Alex," Roberta said. "A local artist did it, and it's called 'The Basics.' Alex was a pretty basic kid, kind of by the book, so that's why it spoke to us."
The sculpture's common yet oft-unheralded message spoke to the Clarks, too. They organized an annual charity disc golf tournament -- known as "The Alex" by area players -- and extended the course's reach beyond the 18 holes.
Every year, the Clarks donate a portion of the proceeds from tournament entry fees to local charities. They usually give the money to Habitat for Humanity, but not this year.
Roberta, a realtor with Ebby Halliday, learned of the Texas Sentinel Foundation (TSF), a nonprofit that builds mortgage-free homes for wounded veterans. Collin County Association of REALTORS (CCAR) President Mal Smith headed an effort most of last year to build a house for Collin County-native veteran Justin Feagin.
While leading an Afghan Border Police unit in 2010, Feagin was injured by an IED, losing his left foot and suffering a ruptured ear drum, broken bones, and deep shrapnel lacerations. He returned home, unaware of the welcome that awaited him.
Through fundraisers and individual donors in and around the county, particularly among area real estate offices, Smith and TSF raised more than $110,000 in several months. Feagin's new home, for which he gets the keys next week, fittingly sits on Patriot Drive in the Liberty subdivision in Melissa.
The home is quite the disc-throw away from Alex Clark Memorial, but Alex -- the way he lived his life -- is now a small piece of it. The Clarks on Friday presented TSF with $1,000, raised from "The Alex" this past November.
"It's very similar to Habitat, what the Foundation is doing," John said. "They're going above and beyond."
Feagin, his wife Kayla, and his son Tyler accepted the check right in the middle of Alex Clark Memorial. They stood in front of the seemingly simple sculpture.
After they again expressed their gratitude for area residents who've continuously rallied on their behalf, the Feagins departed. John and Roberta remained by their son's memorial.
They were living his wonder. People really can do more.
"We just thought this was helping to pay it forward to help Justin and his family," Roberta said. "Alex would have thought this was great."
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