Birdies for Charity Sets Sights on Another Record-Breaking Year


MOLINE, Illinois The John Deere Classic Birdies for Charity Program will be trying to outdo itself again this year - a tall order to say the least.

The program, which helped raise $4 million for some 500 charities in 2007, will officially kick off its annual fundraising drive with a news conference at 2 p.m. Monday, April 7 at the i wireless Center (formerly The Mark of the Quad Cities) at 1201 River Drive in Moline. The Birdies program and the tournament itself combined to raise $4.6 million for charity last year.

Charities may pick up fundraising materials at the i wireless Center from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. next Monday. Any charity wishing to participate in the Birdies program may sign up online at http://www.birdiesforcharity.com/

"Our goal is to continue to raise millions of charity dollars for the community and to continue to give a 10 percent bonus to all participating charities," said Kristy Ketcham, director of the Birdies for Charity program. "The program has grown tremendously over the last several years thanks to the increased participation of private and corporate contributors. We are looking forward to seeing a continuation of that upward trend."

In 2000, the tournament's first year at TPC Deere Run, the enterprise raised $800,000 for charity compared with last year's $4.6 million - an increase of more than 250 percent.

One major appeal of the program is that all of the money goes to the charities while none of it goes to overhead or expenses. That is because John Deere underwrites the entire cost of running the program, which is housed in the John Deere Classic tournament office at Deere Run.

Another major appeal is that the tournament pays a bonus on every pledge collected. Historically, that bonus has been 10 percent, meaning that if a charity raises $5,000 through individual pledges and donations, the charity receives a $500 bonus from the tournament.

"Thanks to John Deere, which underwrites the Birdies program, we are able to write a check for 100 percent of each donation directly to the donor's designated charity," Ketcham said. "And thanks to the bonus program, the amount of that check has been 10 percent larger than it would otherwise be."

Moreover, thanks to Buick - the Official Vehicle of the John Deere Classic and the Official Car of the PGA Tour - the person who guesses the exact number of birdies recorded this year will win a new 2008 Buick Enclave. If more than one person guesses correctly, the winner will be determined by a random drawing.

New charity participants are encouraged to attend an informational meeting to learn more about the fundraising program. This year's Birdies for Charity informational meeting schedule is as follows:

Moline Noon Monday, April 7 at the i wireless center
Dubuque 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 8 at Mt. St. Francis, 3390 Windsor Ave
Iowa City 11 a.m. Monday, April 14 at University of Iowa Community Credit Union, 825 Mormon Trek Blvd
Galesburg 1 p.m. Friday, April 18 at Prarieland Hospice Foundation, 1640 N. Henderson St
Rockford 11 a.m. Thursday, April 21 at the Rockford Rescue Mission, 715 W. State St

Under the Birdies for Charity program, individuals or corporations pledge a minimum of one cent per birdie made during the Wednesday pro-am and the four tournament rounds of the John Deere Classic, including playoffs, to the charity or charities of the donors' choice. At the conclusion of the tournament, the total number of birdies is tabulated and the Birdies office sends invoices to donors. Donors remit their checks to the Birdies office, which then distributes 100 percent of the donations directly to the designated charities.

In 2007, the tournament's seventh year at the Tournament Players Club at Deere Run, 1,863 birdies were recorded, meaning that a donor who pledged one cent per birdie to a charity would contribute $18.63 to that charity. Many contributors donate to more than one charity.

The John Deere Classic, which includes Birdies for Charity, is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization located in the John Deere Classic tournament offices at 15623 Coaltown Road, East Moline, Illinois. Since its founding in1971, the tournament has helped raise $24.6 million for charity.

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