story and photos by Ruby Dean
The first fundraiser of the year for First Tee of Fort Smith was a success with a capacity crowd filling Fianna Hills Country Club on Thursday (Mar. 7) to help support the nonprofit organization.
The Sportsmanship Banquet highlighted the organization's "nine core values.” All proceeds from the banquet will directly benefit The First Tee of Fort Smith with hopes of raising up to $4,000.
The guests were entertained by guest speaker Keith Jackson. Jackson is a Little Rock native and Razorback football color analyst who played on a national championship University of Oklahoma football team and the Green Bay Packers Superbowl XXXI-winning team.
Along with Jackson's many athletic achievements, he is also the president of Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids, a Little Rock youth organization. Jackson addressed the importance of youth involvement in our community.
According to First Tee, the group’s mission is to inspire youth to seek higher education, be of good character, and display outstanding citizenship. The First Tee provides young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop life-enhancing values such as confidence, perseverance and judgment through golf and character education. The vision of the Fort Smith's First Tee is to provide the vehicle through which kids can accomplish their dreams, thrive socially, excel academically and athletically, and become more productive members of society with integrity, strong family values an a commitment to community.
“The youth development program is not just a golf program. There are nine core values – life skills to help make our youths great citizens,” Kris Scott, executive director for The First Tee of Fort Smith, said to the guests as she opened the event.
Before dinner, Jack Fleck was honored by The First Tee of Fort Smith. Fleck is an American professional golfer who is best known for winning the 1955 U.S. Open. He is the oldest living U.S. Open Champion. He resides in Fort Smith with his wife, Carmen.
Some students who participate in The First Tee of Fort Smith were guests to the banquet and spoke to the crowd about the nine core values. The nine core values are honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment.
Jackson kept the audience laughing with his stories about sports – primarily his time playing football. Jackson said football players didn't have core values, especially not on the football field. In talking about the game of golf, he said he ate greens but did not play on greens.
"Time is a non-reusable commodity and everyone should understand their purpose or meaning of their life," Jackson said.
He believes the problem in America today is that "we forgot what community was all about and what a neighborhood meant. Neighborhoods are about building – building strong kids. Time is running out. What will you leave for people to remember you by?”