Celebrities turn out for memorial golf tournament

July 19, 2011

By Christopher Huber

Months before the Joshua P. Williams Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament each year, a posse of his old buddies from Skyline High School scheme about what to wear on tournament day.

By Christopher Huber Mark Hanan, Luke Tulshar, Collin Roberts and Brandon Hemphill (from left), old friends of Josh Williams, watch a ball fly from the bunker on the 12th hole at The Plateau Club on July 12.

This year, four of the guys each played while decked out from head to toe in one color. They found the vibrant attire at a thrift store, intent on standing out everywhere they went at The Plateau Club.

“They look like popsicles out there,” said Debra Williams, Josh’s mother and event organizer. “They make it fun.”

More than 200 people participated in the 2011 celebrity golf tournament in Sammamish July 12. Centered around the casual golf tournament, the charity event raised money for the Williams family’s foundation at the dinner-auction that evening.

A total wasn’t immediately available.

“It’s a fun way for everybody to come out and celebrate Josh’s life,” said Mark Hanan, one of Josh’s high school friends, who wore a baby blue polo shirt and pants. “It’s the best day of the year. It’s a good way to give back to the community.”

This year’s tournament brought 36 local celebrities, including Chance Fry (Seattle Sounders), Tracie Ruiz-Conforto (Olympic gold medalist), Tyler Malsam (auto racer from Sammamish), Alonzo Mitz (retired NFL player), Golden Tate (Seattle Seahawks), Dave Valle (former Seattle Mariners catcher) and Gino Torretta (NFL retired player, NCAA Hall of Fame).

There were so many that organizers had to lump one group of celebrities together for the shotgun start, rather than with other participants.

“That means people want to come back,” Williams said.

She noted the continued success of the tournament, which has run since 2002 and brought in about $1.5 million for the foundation’s beneficiaries — Boys & Girls Club of King County, Athletes for Kids, Young Life, Friends of Youth and Camp Sambica.

The Williams family puts on the benefit tournament and auction each year with help from about 80 friends and youths in Sammamish. But they are currently training some of Josh’s old friends to take over the event planning, Williams said, adding that she appreciated the sheer effort of putting on such an event.

“All of our friends love to play golf, love to throw parties and know how to do it,” Williams said.

Josh Williams died at age 16 in January 2002 after a snowboarding accident at Snoqualmie Pass. He attended Skyline High School, and was involved in sports and various community outreach efforts.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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