Golf Tourney Raises $56.6 Million for Mountain Mission School
Golf Tourney Raises $56.6 Million for Mountain Mission School

Ten sports legends got together to play some golf earlier this month and, in the process, helped raise $56.6 million for Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Va.

The event, “The American Legends for Mountain Mission Kids” tournament, was the largest single-day PGA Tour-sanctioned fund-raiser ever. The funds raised go the Mountain Mission School’s endowment to ensure the school can cover its annual operating expenses.

Jim McGlothlin, chairman and CEO of the United Co., a diversified energy and financial services company—and an MMS board member for 30 years—arranged for the fund-raiser at his course, the Olde Farm Golf Club in Bristol, Va.

Among the sports celebrities who participated: golfers Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Betsy King, Lorena Ochoa, and Lanny Wadkins; former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem; former NFL quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Dan Marino; and NBA Hall-of-Famer Jerry West.

Moneys were raised via gifts and sponsorships (including from Food City and Gregory Pharmaceuticals, among others), 40 donors who gave $100,000 each to be paired with a celebrity, an auction, and more. The amount raised far surpassed the goal of $40 million.

McGlothlin first visited the Mountain Mission School 54 years ago and “it changed my life,” he told www.golfdigest.com in April. “It gives these kids a chance at life they would never have had. And they’re just so sweet. All they want is a chance at life.”

Mountain Mission School was founded in 1921 by Sam Hurley, who experienced being alone as a youth, but went on to become a successful businessman in Grundy later in life. In his 40s, he established Grundy Academy, which became Mountain Industrial Institute, and then Mountain Mission School. Hurley brought Dr. and Mrs. Josephus Hopwood—he was a former president of Milligan College—out of retirement to help start the school, and Dr. Hopwood became the school’s first president, according to the MMS website. Later, Hurley became president.

“It is estimated that more than 20,000 children have received care at MMS since its founding in 1921,” the school’s website says. Sam Hurley’s great-grandson, Chris Slone, serves as the school’s sixth president.

Mountain Mission School is home to 200 to 230 at-risk students, ranging from 18 months old to age 20. The children typically come from low-income families and have challenging situations in their homes. Some children are refugees from foreign war zones.

The Christian school for grades pre-K through 12 has a 95 percent graduation rate, and of the students who go on to college, 95 percent earn their degrees within four years, with virtually all of them finishing college debt-free, thanks to McGlothlin’s United Co., according to the Golf Digest story.

“Jim has set an unbelievably high bar here,” Peyton Manning told the Bristol Herald Courier. “And the support of this community, the amount of money that they’ve raised, has proven just phenomenal. Any time you can have a lot of fun at the same time and raise money for a good cause, it’s a win-win.”

The event surpassed the next-biggest PGA Tour-sanctioned fund-raiser, 2010’s “Big 3 for Mountain Mission Kids” that McGlothlin also organized and which featured Nicklaus, Player, and the late Arnold Palmer. The “Big 3” event raised and $15.1 million for the school.

Of that total, about $6 million went for a new academic building and the remaining $9 million went toward the school’s endowment, www.golfdigest.com reported.

Rules allow for up to 5 percent of the endowment’s principal to be withdrawn in a year to cover MMS’s operating expenses, which amount to about $4.5 million per year, the website reported. The latest fund-raiser helps fill a gap in operating funds that the now-floundering coal industry formerly helped to offset each year.

“To get the community and people that are interested in kids to be able to do this, it can only happen one place, and that’s America,” Nicklaus told the Herald Courier. “I’m still excited about $15 million [from eight years ago].”

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Dorm Reopens after Fire

When a tree fell onto a power line, and then onto the boy’s dormitory at Mountain Mission School on April 3, the resulting fire didn’t injure anyone but it displaced more than 100 students and staff members.

In recent days, thanks to teamwork among contractors and a donation by Jim and Fran McGlothlin, repairs and renovations have been completed and the dormitory is ready to house students again, said Chris Slone, the school’s president.

“There’s all new furniture, new bedrooms, new concourses, new kitchens, and new bath facilities,” Slone told WCYB.com.

During the dorm’s closure, children stayed in the school’s gym and in campus guest housing, Slone said.

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