SEABROOK – The best club in the bag for many golfers on Sept. 24 at the Christmas in April Prince George’s County Memorial Golf Tournament was an umbrella, as rain fell for most of the day, though the turnout of both players and volunteers was stronger than ever.
This year marked the 29th iteration of the event, which is named in honor of Susan Denison Mona and John Denison.
A record 390 golfers registered for the tournament held at Joint Base Andrews and although not all of them made it out, many braved the dreary conditions in the name of charity.
“I can’t tell you how amazing it is that so many people did show up,” said Christmas in April Prince George’s County President Sunny Vargas. “They love golf, but they’re still committed to supporting our program. It’s important to us that they come, that we see their faces and try to provide a good time for them.”
The weather limited the tournament to only nine holes and cut the silent auction short by a couple of hours, but only a few good-natured hecklers seemed to mind.
The four-person scramble match saw groups go off on three of the courses on the base with awards given to first and second place finishers at each location. There were side contests for longest drive and closest to the pin, raffle prizes including putters and irons, plus a plethora of local sports team gear and outdoor items available for bidding at the silent auction.
Sponsorship opportunities started at around $100 but went all the way up to $5,000, with tournament officials acknowledging those “platinum sponsors” by name before the shotgun start. Del. Jay Walker served as emcee once the golfers had registered and gathered near the commemorative Mona/Denison sign, thanking everyone for their involvement, with an assist from WJLA Meteorologist Veronica Johnson. The pair also took the opportunity to recognize Mona and Denison’s contributions to the organization.
“They were friends to so many of us, and an inspiration to all of us,” Walker said. “This tournament will always serve as a reminder of all the great things and the great spirit they had in our community.”
Walker added there are currently more than 2,600 volunteers involved with the county’s Christmas in April operations and the group has generated nearly $48 million in the last 30 years.
Christmas in April, now known as Rebuilding Together, is a national nonprofit assisting the less-fortunate with building projects and home repairs. The local group has helped countless veterans and elderly residents, fixing 2,662 homes in the past three decades. Vincent “Cap” Mona of Mona Electric Group is the founding chairman of Christmas in April Prince George’s County and was on hand to welcome the hoard of hackers.
“We couldn’t have done it without you, the golfers, and the 90,000 volunteers and everybody who has put forth effort into helping this program,” Mona said. “Neighbor helping neighbor.”
Each year the organization recognizes a member for their work in the community, and John Minzer was selected as the 2018 recipient of the Susan Mona John Denison Distinguished Service Award.
Minzer is the president of Timberlake Homes and has worked on dozens of home development projects throughout the county. He has participated in the event for at least 20 years, per Mona, and currently serves as one of three tournament chairs.
“John (Denison) is probably the most charitable guy that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” Minzer said. “I’m just glad that I’ve been able to do a little bit.”