It Means the World

It began as a friendly round of golf.
That’s all. A chance to slip out of the office on a nice summer day, get some exercise, maybe sweat a little, and enjoy some fellowship. Nothing more. Or so it seemed.
From that friendly round of golf, you see, came a friendship, a business connection, and a good idea. Actually, a great idea.
One day in June 2019, Wes Atiyeh, a 1984 Collegiate alumnus and a real estate agent with Joyner Fine Properties, hit the links at the Kinloch Golf Club in eastern Goochland County with his friend Brad Parker.
There, they ran into Bobby Wadkins, a retired pro golfer and his son Casey (Collegiate class of ’08) and set out as a group to play 18 holes.
“I’d never met Bobby before, but I knew who he was,” Atiyeh said. “We walked together and had good conversation. It ended up that he and his wife Linda hired me as the listing agent for their home. We got the house sold. They bought another house. Through that, we played golf and tennis together.”
The months rolled along, spring arrived, and with it the coronavirus crisis. Times were tough. Challenges arose at every turn.
Atiyeh, no stranger to altruism, saw a need. He floated an idea to Wadkins, who’s well known in the sports world as is his brother Lanny, also a retired pro golfer who lives in Dallas and serves as the lead analyst for the Champions Tour on the Golf Channel.
What about an auction where the winner plays a round with Bobby and Lanny with the proceeds going to a charitable cause?
There was no hesitation. The Wadkins brothers were all in.
In fact, Bobby Wadkins suggested a worthy recipient of the beneficence: first responders in Goochland County (where he and his family live).
“They’re always there for the county,” Wadkins said. “The sheriff’s department and fire department don’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican, black or white, green or purple. If they get called, they show up and do what they have to do. That’s impressive.
“They’re excited to do their job. They don’t just punch in 9-to-5 and get a paycheck. They really enjoy helping other people. Let’s help the people who show up and try to do good.”
Atiyeh, creator and co-director of the River City Tennis Open which supports the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Richmond, organized an online auction. He and Bobby Wadkins generated interest, mainly through word-of-mouth and social media.
“Kinloch agreed to host the event: comp the round, provide caddies, and feed the players,” Atiyeh said. “The hope was to play October 13, the Tuesday before the Dominion Energy Classic, but with Bobby playing in the tournament, we moved it to the spring on Lanny’s home course (Preston Trail Golf Club) in Dallas.”
The response to the appeal was heartwarming, Atiyeh said, so much so that the organizers decided to auction off two spots rather than just one. The winners were Parker, Atiyeh’s June 2019 golf partner, and Dave Coiner.
End of story? Hardly.
The Monday after the Dominion Energy Classic, Bobby Wadkins hosted a pro-am tournament at Kinloch which generated donations to the cause. Others who became aware of the undertaking chipped in.
“It was amazing,” Atiyeh said. “It shows how much people care not only about other people but about the community. Even though some of the donors don’t even live in Goochland, they care about this community.”
This past Wednesday, Atiyeh and Bobby Wadkins presented a check for $27,000 to support the Goochland County Sheriff’s and Fire and Rescue departments.
“The support that Wes and Bobby have given us is overwhelming along with the support we get from the west end of the county to the east end,” said Sheriff Steven Creasey. “We really appreciate their act of kindness in this troubling year.
Creasey expects the gift to go toward well-deserved employee recognition, training classes which a tight budget precludes, and community engagement projects.
“What Wes and Bobby did,” Creasey said, “means the world to us.”