The 33rd annual Laurie Bell Memorial Jet Open golf tournament was once again a success, thanks to the help of staff, volunteers, golfers and sponsors.
The two-day event started with the traditional kickoff party that included dinner, fun and both a silent and live auction. Attendees were greeted by Johnny Jet and some Newman cheerleaders as they walked into the brilliantly decorated Dugan-Gorges Conference Center.
Auction items at the kickoff party included one week at a condo in Mexico, a golf cart, dinner for 16 at Gianni Bacci’s in Wichita, Kansas City Chiefs tickets and more. All proceeds go to the Newman University Athletics to help provide scholarships for athletes, facility upgrades, uniforms and other needs.
The weather on tournament day was a golfer's dream. With a high in the low 80s and a few clouds, golfers were able to enjoy the outing without worrying about rain or extreme heat.
A favorite game on the course involves a top-notch Newman golfer teeing off for the players. For a donation of $20, the college player would take the first shot. Sophomore Kaelan Hackenburg helped out the morning golfers and senior Caleb Haight had the afternoon golfers' backs.
Sports Information Director David Rung said, "I was helping at hole 11 all day, where the Newman golfer hit the drive. It's a favorite — pretty much everyone does it. It's a great group. They all know the day is a fundraiser and they benefit from it, too."
The awards ceremony took place after the tournament on Monday night at Emerson Biggins in west Wichita, and was very well-attended. "We had half of the restaurant reserved and that was pretty well-packed."
The team that came in on top is that of Father Tom Welk and his three teammates, Father Daryl Befort and recently ordained Newman alumni Fathers Ed Herzog and Andrew Labenz.
The entire event raised more than $90,000.
Director of Athletics Victor "Vic" Trilli said, "I thought we had an outstanding Jet Open. Lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm."
Trilli said he's especially grateful for the support that comes from staff and the Newman family.
"How we continue to be able to raise money sometimes amazes me. People often ask us, 'What do you do during the summer?' Well, we're in full mode to pull off two big events. One with 1,400 runners and then one with 50 golf teams and a banquet to put on. To me, more than anything else, it's just an appreciation of all the work and effort that my staff puts in and this community supports. That just makes it all worth it."