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Michael “Mickey” Gaynor Memorial Golf Tournament

“The reason we chose to do a fundraising event was to honor my father, celebrating his life and love of golf. We chose to have the tournament benefit LBDA because we thought it was the best way to thank them. LBDA was such a big resource for support and information while our family was trying to understand and deal with LBD.” - Mark Gaynor

 

LBDA:

What was the reason you chose to host a fundraising event for LBDA?

Mark Gaynor:

To honor my father, celebrating his life and his love of golf. We chose to have the tournament benefit LBDA because we thought it was the best way to thank them. LBDA was such a big resource for support and information while our family was trying to understand and deal with LBD.

We held the tournament at the golf course where my dad and his friends, some of whom he had known since childhood, played every week. With that, it truly brought more of my father's connection to the event. For us as a family, the tournament is very fulfilling as it allows us to keep my father's spirit and his love of golf, alive and continue to help those still affected by Lewy body dementia.

LBDA:

We receive many inquiries from volunteers who wish to host an event, but not all events come to fruition. What caused you to take the next step and feel empowered to make a difference?

MG:

We saw firsthand how unaware people are of LBD, including the medical profession. We saw the tournament as a way to raise awareness locally and raise funds for LBDA to help them to continue to provide the services that are so greatly needed.

To provide some background, my father, Michael, was finally diagnosed with LBD in 2005. I say finally because we had visited so many doctors without any real answers. It wasn't until he had a seizure ending up at UMASS in Worcester, MA., where he was put under the care of a neurologist familiar with LBD, that he was then diagnosed.

In retrospect, he was a classic LBD case with night terrors many years before, progressive dementia and sensitivity to certain neuro-medicines. At that point, not knowing much, we turned to the Internet. It was there that we found LBDA. They were unbelievably helpful — both with the information they were able to provide and the support that they offered. I believe that the Helpline had just begun accepting calls around that time, which my mother, as primary caregiver, found very supportive.

We will never forget, as it was not too long ago, we were one of those families. The Lewy Body Dementia Association was invaluable as we were trying to understand and cope with this terrible disease. LBDA provided sound advice and beneficial information. We want to continue to support that outreach, education and research that is so needed.

LBDA:

This year's event will be the second time you've hosted The Michael "Mickey" Gaynor Memorial Golf Tournament. Can you give our volunteers an idea of the lessons you learned between your first and second events?

MG:

The second time around has been much easier to plan and organize. A big advantage is that many of the details are in place such as the venue and the invite list (which took a substantial amount of time during our inaugural event). We also knew what to expect with our second tournament, with the institutional knowledge of our first, we knew what needed to happen and how we could improve. This year, we created an online donation page for our event using FirstGiving, which greatly reduced the amount of administrative work I had to do to prepare the donations for processing by LBDA.

LBDA:

What advice would you give to other volunteers who are considering planning an event?

MG:

Keep it fun! Also, involve those people closest to the loved one you are honoring — they are a great asset in making the event successful. Our first tournament was an emotional day for us — we were so overwhelmed by the turnout and all the generosity that made the event an amazing tribute.

Be sure to have realistic expectations and goals for your event. Keep it manageable and contact the LBDA staff when you have questions.

For us, keeping the event personal allowed the tournament and subsequent cookout and raffle to have the feel of a big party. Everyone that attended the tournament had some direct connection to my father and it was felt that day.