Former University of Kentucky and major-league baseball player Doug Flynn, UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell and ex-Cincinnati Reds great Johnny Bench are coming together for a Lexington cause that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the care of disabled children.
The trio are co-hosts of the Children's Charity Classic Week at Andover Golf & Country Club and Greenbrier Golf & Country Club that began Monday with a reception at the Andover clubhouse.
The event is organized by Children's Charity of the Bluegrass, a non-profit charity that raises money to support local organizations supporting disabled children. Along with a group of individuals, sponsors from Valvoline to Toyota — 30 in total — pay a minimum of $5,000 to participate in the week-long event that concludes with two rounds of golf on Friday and Saturday.
A graduate of Bryan Station High School, Flynn has been involved with the event for 25 years and is a part of the charity's brain trust as a board member.
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Flynn's primary job is to get celebrities to come to the event. Involvement has multiplied from 11 celebrities in the first year, 1981, to 50 this year.
This year's list includes the three co-hosts, former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson, former UK basketball player Jim Andrews, actress Debbe Dunning and UK All-America defensive lineman Art Still.
Chairwoman Kim Sweazy said the charity relies on Flynn for celebrity involvement, but Flynn's fingerprints are all over the charity.
"He exudes what this charity is all about," Sweazy said. "He has a commitment that carries over to other people."
Sweazy, along with the other members of the charity, do not get paid for the work they do throughout the year. A small portion is set aside for expenses, and the rest of the donations go to the organization.
"It inspires help in the community," said Sarah Lister, who represented the Ronald McDonald House and received $17,500 from last year's proceeds. "We get a tremendous amount of help from this event, and it reverberates."
The Ronald McDonald House's check was matched by UK's School of Medicine. The $35,000 will go toward improvements of the organization's local building.
Organizers presented checks from last year's event in front of the crowd during Monday's reception. Last year's proceeds totaled $420,000, split among 26 agencies.
Since 1981, the event has raised over $8 million to assist children in Central Kentucky.
The week-long event continues Tuesday with a Kid's Jamboree followed on Wednesday by a junior celebrity golf tournament hosted by PGA Tour player and Danville native Josh Teater.