BRATTLEBORO -- Though 148 people hit the links at Brattleboro Country Club on Wednesday, the outing wasn't about golf.
It was all about finding a cure.
The BCC hosted the 20th Corbeil Classic -- which reached its maximum number of golfers -- to benefit the Jimmy Fund, and thus help support cancer care and research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Brattleboro resident Laura Pratt and Red Sox legend Rico Petrocelli were among the speakers that addressed those in attendance while they ate a buffet-style meal after 18 holes of golf in 99-degree weather. All participants were treated to a chicken or steak dinner at the Fairway Tavern once play had concluded.
Pratt was diagnosed with Stage I ovarian cancer in October, finished up chemotherapy in March and her doctor says she now has a 90-percent chance of a cure. She was asked to speak on Wednesday due to her experience with Dana-Farber.
"I had a fabulous experience," she told the Reformer outside on the porch of the Fairway Tavern, though she stressed she did not enjoying having to battle cancer. "Dana-Farber is a real option for people in Brattleboro. It's not that far away.
"It's an incredibly loving, caring and compassionate place that gives you excellent care," she continued. "Every single person in the entire place, from the parking attendants to the nurses to the volunteers to the doctors, are all very welcoming."
Though she gave a
The event is now run by his daughter-in-law, Kelli Corbeil. Her brother-in-law David ran the tournament with Petrocelli's help after his father's death and she and her husband Bill got involved when they moved to Brattleboro in 2007 after purchasing WTSA, the local radio station. Irony struck in its cruelest form the following year, when Bill was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Not knowing what to do, Bill called Jimmy Fund Chairman Mike Andrews, who referred him to Dana-Farber. Despite chemo and radiation treatments, Bill died in 2009 at the age of 40.
His memory now lives on through the tournament that he worked hard for, that carries his family's name.
"It's tremendous. I think people realize that it's local and it affects all of us. I bet every person here knows somebody in some way that has been affected by cancer, whether it's in their family or a friend or a friend's friend," she said when she got a spare minute from the hustle-bustle of the event. "Unfortunately, it's everywhere. Everybody's affected and everybody's trying to help cure it."
The Jimmy Fund puts on 160 different golf tournaments every year to benefit cancer treatment and research.
Wednesday's participants entered the air-conditioned Fairway Tavern in droves to escape the heat after more than five hours of fundraising golf. People, most glistening with sweat, mingled and made friendly conversation with one another in the tavern's lobby and bar area and cooled off with pints of beer and other drinks.
In addition to inside, tables were set up on the building's patio, where speakers used a microphone to address those in front of them. Off to the side were several items of sports memorabilia that were up for auction.
Kelli Corbeil said she was thrilled with the turnout and how each participant played through the course despite the heat.
Petrocelli, a member of 1967 Boston Red Sox "Impossible Dream" team, first got involved with the Jimmy Fund as a rookie in 1965. He remains active due to his love for the organization and a desire to find a cure for cancer.
"The people are so fabulous. It's hard to describe," he said minutes before speaking to the attendees. "They are so caring. They know what this is all about."
He said it made him want to cry nearly 50 years ago when he met cancer-striken young children through the Jimmy Fund and was told by Executive Director Bill Koster that most of them likely wouldn't live another six months, as the survival rates were much lower back then. He mentioned how much he admires Dana-Farber, where his mother was once treated for cancer, and the work its employees do.
Petrocelli said the people that work there conduct research 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Bill Corbeil and his father, who Petrocelli became close friends with, are remembered each year at the classic, which to date has raised more than $300,000 to support Dana-Farber. There were raffles and silent and live auctions to raise additional funds for the cause.
"We're making great strides but there's still a lot of work to be done," Petrocellli told those eating their dinner on the patio.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.