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Stealing ideas for charity

I have a confession to make.

Larry Stewart

Larry Stewart

Call it plagiarism, or out-and-out theft. I stole an idea from a person who had a tremendously postive impact on my life: Bill Dwyre, who was the sports editor, and my boss for the majority of my 30-plus years at the Los Angeles Times.

Here is an example of how much I think of Dwyre:

When I learned in 2008 that the Southern California Sports Broadcasters had named me the winner of their annual “Good Guy” award, I selected Dwyre as the person to introduce me at the group’s award luncheon. Dwyre was the obvious choice; a no-brainer.

Stewart (middle) with the late Rory Markus (l) and Bill Dwyre (r)

Stewart with the late Rory Markus (l) and Bill Dwyre (r)

Angel announcer Rory Markas, a truly good guy who died at the age of 54 last Jan. 4, served as the emcee at the luncheon, which was held at the famous Lakeside Golf Cub in Toluca Lake.

The idea I recently stole from Dwyre involves celebrity golf. Twenty years ago he came up with a really neat format for a celebrity tournament he was involved with, the Padua Village Golf Classic, an event that has been around for 27 years and raised more than $6.5 million for a Pomona facility that offers long-term care and housing for developmentally disabled adults.

Some of the biggest names in sports — John Wooden, Pete Carroll, John Elway, George Foreman, Pete Sampras, Jim Murray, Al Michaels and many more — have participated, all donating their time.

Some play golf, some don’t. Their main function is to provide a fascinating evening program. Dwyre, through his connections in sports, puts together a roundtable panel of big-name celebrities and then interviews them during the post-tournament festivities.

This format is certainly easier than attempting to put a celebrity with each group, and since the interview sessions are done by a journalistic pro such as Dwyre, golfers leave with plenty of stories to tell family, friends and co-workers.

A little over a year ago I became involved with Tierra del Sol, a Sunland organization which, like Padua Village, caters to developmentally and physically disabled individuals.

Tierra del Sol, which began putting on a charity golf tournament three years ago, asked me to join the golf committee. I gladly accepted. And I stole Dwyre’s format.

Rest assured, I don’t think he is too upset about it. Evidence of that is that he was the first to accept an invitation to participate in a roundtable at the third annual Tierra del Sol charity golf tournament, to be held Monday, April 19, at Angeles National Golf Club in Sunland.

Getting Dwyre was step one. Since then, others who have agreed to take part in the roundtable are Rafer Johnson, former UCLA quarterback Matt Stevens, who is now the Bruins’ radio commentator, and his USC counterpart, former Trojan quarterback Paul McDonald. UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel is also expected to be a part of the panel, if he is able to make it. Neuheisel has spring practice that day, so he couldn’t totally commit. USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett was on board for a while but had to drop out because of BCS meetings in Arizona.

Dwyre will have a different role at this tournament. He is one of the celebrities, not the moderator. That job will be handled by the event’s emcee, Steve Hartman of KLAC 570 and Channels 2 and 9. Hartman was also the emcee at the previous two Tierra del Sol tournaments.

Other celebrities who will be on hand include former Dodger shortstop and manager Bill Russell, who plans to play in the tournament but has to leave early because of a prior commitment, and Michael Young, a former UCLA and NFL wide receiver who is now the Dodgers’ Chief Revenue Officer who plans to attend the post-tournament festivities.

Tee off time for the April 19 tournament is noon. The roundtable is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. The entry fee is $250, which is a real bargain considering the celebrity lineup. Generally a golf tournament like this would have an entry fee of at least $500. For further information or to submit an entry or make a donation, call event coordinator Gail Peters at 818 352-1419, ext. 250.

One other thing: if you can’t make the Tierra del Sol tournament, the 28th annual Padua Village Classic is the following Monday at Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga. Featured guest at that tournament is Peter Ueberroth. Actually, I’m playing in both tournaments. I’ve already sent in my entries.


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