By LARRY VAUGHT
LEXINGTON — I’ve only missed one of the seven Swings For Soldiers Classic events hosted by Allison and Jacob Tamme to raise money for Homes For Our Troops and it’s a terrific event that has raised over $500,000 to build specially adapted homes.
Monday’s event at the University Club outside Lexington was no different.
It starts with the Tammes greeting everyone as they pull into the entrance to the club and giving participants their special Swings for Soldiers Classic goody bag.
It’s hard not to be moved when you see the veterans who have had specially adapted homes built with proceeds from this event and see the admiration and love they have for Tamme and his family.
Then you get a chance to see all those who come out to support Tamme and make the event special.
Three former UK football players — Jeremy Jarmon, Ricky Lumpkin and Trevard Lindley — were three of the first people I saw. Lumpkin, who will play for the Baltimore Ravens this year, says he has played in a similar event in Arizona but the Tammes put on the best event he’s been part of.
Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman was telling stories with former UK quarterback Freddie Maggard — who later claimed he made five birdie putts.
Kentucky assistant basketball coach John Robic was there and annually is one of the biggest supporters of the auction items.
Former UK quarterback Tim Couch was back again to play. Same for current Tennessee linebacker Avery Williamson and former Final Four MVP Jack Givens. Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart played golf again and praised Tamme from start to finish.
Two of my favorites were new UK football coaches Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw. I saw both on the first tee while helping volunteer Lesley Prater keep an eye on things. Hinshaw talked about how Gran, receivers coach Lamar Thomas, head coach Mark Stoops and himself all liked to play golf as much as they could. He talked about how competitive Stoops is on the course — no surprise — but that Thomas clearly was the best player.
Of course, when Gran arrived a foursome later I told him that Hinshaw said he could outplay Stoops, Thomas or Gran.
“Yeah, but I am better looking,” Gran laughed and said.
Allison and Jacob Tamme seem to know everyone even though there were over 200 players. They take time to be with the veterans who have had houses built for them. They talk to the media. They make sure all the volunteers are busy and leave nothing to chance.
“These veterans serve on our behalf and have had a life-changing event,” Jacob Tamme said. “Then in my opinion it is our duty to give them a life-changing positive event. We try to do that and people jump on board to help.
“It’s an honor to be here. We had a chance to have dinner last night and talk to everyone (who had received a home). Relationships are what will last.
“We have had so many come back and support us year after year. It’s not because of me. It’s the group that puts this on. They do a great job with the event and it is because they believe in the mission and what we are trying to do to support veterans. People jump on board to help and we love that.”