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Tkach tourney bigger, better

Published May 06. 2010 05:00PM

It was only the third annual, but the Bo Tkach Memorial Golf Tournament held at Blue Ridge Country Club on Wednesday keeps getting better and better and better.

The primary fundraiser for the Bo Tkach Foundation attracted 148 golfers and will raise over $40,000 after all receipts are in from the outing that also included a bidding auction with numerous autographed items and tickets to sporting events.

Matt Millen, former Penn State and NFL player now back in the broadcast booth after a stint as Detroit Lions president, called it "people helping people".

Millen and his wife Pat have been instrumental in helping the Tkach's through their journey of helping others who struggle with Depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an illness that Bo suffered with before taking his own life at the young age of 25.

"It got bigger than we ever expected," said former Northern Lehigh head coach Jim Tkach, Bo's father, who with his wife Sandi are the driving force behind the foundation. "We never thought that it would come to this level, but obviously it has; people are interested and we're thrilled with the number that have come for help.

"The first year, we had 12 people come for counseling, then it grew to 25 and now 65. We're not thrilled that there is that many people sick, but we're thrilled that we could provide the funding."

Tkach also said that the outpouring of support is just overwhelming and wanted to thank everyone who is involved in the tournament, from the major sponsors PenTeleData and Blue Ridge Communications down to those with donations of any kind.

The Sports Memorabilia Auction that was held after the tournament dinner was another big success.

"We had stuff donated from the Steelers, the Eagles, the Penguins and the Phillies and I think that the message is really starting to get out there of what we're trying to do," Tkach added. "Just the unselfishness of people is unbelievable. Today during the day it was incredible the amount of money that we received. Guys were coming in to golf at Blue Ridge who weren't involved with this outing and were giving donations saying please put this towards the foundation.

"The thing that also hit us today was that we got four donations in memory of Owen Thomas, the Parkland graduate from Penn who committed suicide over a week ago. They knew that the money was going directly to help people and to have his friends and family donate to this foundation is just very touching."

Larry Kindborn, the head football coach of Washington University in St. Louis, a Division III school was the main speaker and it was fitting because he was recently presented the 2009 Grant Teaff "Breaking the Silence" Award at the 2010 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Convention in Orlando, Fla., because of his hard work and dedication to the prevention of youth suicide.

Kindborn said he has become more of a listener now since he became involved in the Jason Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of youth suicide.

In January 2009, Kindbom started what turned out to be a seven-month awareness program at Washington University. He began training for his first marathon. He asked his players to donate a penny to the Jason Foundation for each mile he ran in training and in the marathon.

Before too long others began stopping by to donate and encourage him. He ran the Marathon on July 26 in four hours and 22 minutes and raised $223.48 for The Jason Foundation.

"Like everybody else, it was like a New Year's resolution," he said about the training. "The first day or two you start running, then it gets hard to keep up. So I said I needed some motivation. I remember Jim telling me his story about Bo and that's when I decided to get involved with the Jason Foundation.

"I find myself being more of a listener now as a coach than I was before. I was surprised that 13 percent in the 17-to-21 age group think about suicide.

"I also found out by questioning my players that one out of eight of them could fall in this category so that made me want to get involved more."

Next up will be the 2010 Flag Football game fundraiser for the TACKLE ALS Foundation and the Bo Tkach Foundation which will be held at Northern Lehigh High School this summer with more teams involved than ever before.

When everything is wrapped up from this year's tournament, organizers just step back and read the slogan for the organization to get refueled to start on next year's event.

"Under every helmet and hat is a child who needs us."

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