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Insights and Observations

Henry's Highlights
Monday, June 5, 2006

By Henry Hinton

Drew-Skip event a phenomenon in the making


7:00-9:00 a.m.

Tune in on the radio or catch the live Internet feed of today's Talk of the Town with Henry Hinton:


The Drew Steele-Skip Holtz Golf Classic is on! The huge two-day event kicked off last night on campus at East Carolina with a dinner auction the likes of which have not been seen since the Michael Jordan Tournament left Greenville.

Over 700 people jammed the floor of Williams Arena inside Minges Coliseum for a three-hour evening that started with food and drink from some of the area’s finest restaurants along with a silent auction that drew a massive response from the huge crowd.

Among the silent auction items that brought the big dollars were autographed footballs from former NFL great Jim Brown, the entire Carolina Panthers team and former ECU star David Garrard, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Those were scattered among approximately 100 items that brought huge dollars for the tournament’s benefactor, Pitt County Special Populations.

The tournament is the brainchild of ECU head football coach Skip Holtz and former ECU basketball coach Mike Steele, the father of Drew.

Dollars raised during the event will stay in Pitt County to fund programs for special needs children and citizens. A percentage of the money will go into an endowment account that will eventually be used to build a facility in Greenville for special needs children. Holtz has vowed that the facility will bear Drew Steele’s name.

Drew and Holtz have become buddies since the coach put him to work in the football equipment room. The coach has since told the story of how uplifting and helpful Drew was last season in turning around the attitude of a team that had won just three games in two seasons.

The entire community has seemed to buy into the idea that Holtz has presented. In addition to the silent auction, there was a live auction conducted that netted over $70,000. People bid on and purchased airplane trips to upcoming ECU away games, game day experiences on campus in football, basketball and baseball, fishing trips with Holtz, girls-night-out dinners with Jennifer Holtz and other specialty items.

One item that drew a lot of attention was a pair of autographed boxing gloves from Muhammad Ali. Former ECU football player John Hallow wowed the crowd with his impression of the great boxer and then bought the gloves himself for $7,500.

The first leg of the tournament was a huge success. Now comes the golf, which will be played on two courses in Greenville today. The event was originally scheduled for Ironwood Country Club in Greenville, but the huge rush of willing participants dictated that the event be held on two separate courses. Greenville Country Club will host the other group.

PGA touring professional Will McKenzie and former PGA player Doug Martin, a close friend of Coach Holtz, will conduct clinics on both courses during the day.

A total of 66 teams will play in the event. 18 corporate gold sponsors also have contributed to the tournament’s success.

Asked late Sunday evening exactly how much total money has been raised in the first year of the event, Sandy Steele, Drew’s mom and one of the coordinators of the tournament, said it is too early to tell.

However, it appears the two-day event has grossed over $200,000 to help children and citizens of Pitt County with special needs.

Talk 1070 will broadcast live from Ironwood Monday for the event with interviews and information about the tournament. It is expected that the final tally will be announced at that time.

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This page updated 04/21/08 07:02 PM.

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