As we come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is still an uncertain place. More important than ever, are the heroes that carry us to the safe space, that lift us up when we are down and out. BuffaloGolfer.Com has decided to end the 2022 year, and begin 2023 with a series on the unsung heroes of golf in western New York. We asked for nominations on Twitter (@buffalogolfer) and Instagram (@buffalogolfer) and are able to begin this run with our first nominess. Please read, then share with friends, then visit our social media accounts to nominate your unsung hero of golf. Thanks and Godspeed to all.
1. Tell us who you are and what you do in life.
My name is Dave Spadone, I am one of three younger brothers of the late Ronald J. Spadone – for whom the tournament is named. I work for the Erie County Dept of Mental Health as its Director of Fiscal Administration since 2014.
2. You host an annual charity golf event in Western New York. How did it get started?
Our oldest brother Ron passed away at the age of 43 in May of 2007 from prolonged complications of Myotonic Dystrophy. The following summer in 2008, we hosted the initial RJS Memorial Golf Tournament at Harvest Hill and we have been hosting it annually ever since (except for 2020 due to Covid).
3. Where have you hosted it in the past, and what did you like about those venues?
It started at Harvest Hill for the first few years, which we loved due to the great course it is and its centralized location, but we left because we didn’t want to keep having to make the players and other guests drive to a separate location for dinner. We’ve also held the event at Diamond Hawk, Elma Meadows and Arrowhead, each of which was very accommodating and fun places to play as well.
4. The 2022 event was played at Glen Oak. What brought you to Glen Oak?
2020 was actually supposed to be the first year at Glen Oak, but it was postponed a year due to the pandemic…so 2022 was our second year there. We initially decided to give Glen Oak a shot due to a personal connection that one of our committee members had with ownership there.
5. Who helps you with the execution of the event, and how do you get them on the team?
We have been truly blessed basically from the beginning because getting enough players, volunteers and sponsors hasn’t been too much of a problem over the years. Sure there were times when we wished we had a few more players or sponsor dollars, but for the most part, the support has been there throughout. While we’ve had consistent help from a few close relatives and friends, our immediate family has pretty much taken care of everything – i.e. my two brothers, John and Joe, my sister, JoAnn and my mom, Anne.
6. What is the one element of a charity event that folks have no clue is needed?
I would say that maintaining an enthusiastic core group is more difficult than some people might think. Not that on the surface people don’t always want to be committed, it’s just that life happens and families expand, etc. Plus there is a lot of competition out there for people’s time and money, so you can never take that for granted.
7. What is the single, most difficult aspect of planning and preparing this type of event?
I would say that aside from always drumming up the support of players and volunteers, it’s negotiating each year with the venue on the pricing and other details. Especially for our tournament, since we have been adamant about having it on a Friday in the middle of the summer; most courses don’t like that due to the walk up business they lose as a result…which is why we have left certain courses over the years due to being priced out.
8. For someone who wants to host a charity event, what five bits of advice would you give?
- Pick a central location as best you can;
- Try to develop personal connections with venues and sponsors – i.e. make sure they understand what you are doing and why you are doing it;
- Always be sincere when showing appreciation to supporters;
- Make sure your core group is committed to the cause for the long term because there will be times when some may want to get off the train or step aside due to what is happening in their lives;
- Make it fun for everyone because that’s what people remember year after year!
9. What has been the most memorable moment/shot/result during the history of the event?
I think all of us honestly enjoy each and every year mostly because of the people we get to see and hang out with for those few hours on that Friday afternoon in the middle of the summer. I guess there was also that time when a family member might have overturned one of the golf carts after forgetting that it wasn’t a mini BMW and couldn’t turn on a dime, but that’s not an official answer of course! 🙂