When the world’s best golfers hit the links during The Valspar Championship presented by BB&T at Innisbrook Resort each spring, they’re not the only ones with their eyes on the prize: more than 100 charities from throughout the Tampa Bay area benefit from the week-long tournament and its Copperhead Charities.
Beginning each September prior to the March tournament, more than 60 local charities take pledges through the Birdies for Charity pro-gram. Over the six-month timeframe, they ask for pledges based upon the number of birdies the players as a field make during the week’s tournament. At the end of the tournament week, the birdies are tallied and the donations come rolling in, with The Valspar Championship upping the ante, adding an additional 15 percent to each charity’s total. Over the course of The 2016 Valspar Championship (March 7–13), 1,039 birdies were made.
The breadth of charities that benefit from The Valspar Championship range widely: local aquariums and zoos, children’s hospitals and high schools, four local chapters of the First Tee Program and Habitat for Humanity, and many more in between.
Leading the tournament’s charitable charge are the Copperheads— “…more than 150 business and civic leaders in the community, ranging from millennials to those more established who have been in the community for a long time,” said Tracy West, tournament director of The Valspar Championship and president of Copperhead Charities. Over nearly 40 years, the Copperheads have raised more than $34 million for local charities.
Last summer, the Copperheads teamed up with tournament staff and volunteers to build a Habitat for Humanity house in St. Petersburg, using proceeds from the 2015 tournament.
“It was our first chance to build a Habitat house as a group,” said West. “It was one of those moments to be really hands-on a project; to not only fund it, but put in the sweat equity as well. It was very fulfilling.” The tournament’s title sponsor helped out with the house as well: Valspar is the National Partner with Habitat for Humanity International and donates paint for every Habitat house built within the U.S.; more than 2.5 million gallons of paint have been donated to date.
“In addition to this charitable support, we also support our U.S. military in a major way,” West added. “We offer more than 4,000 complimentary tournament tickets to local active duty and retired military and their families, as well as host a hospitality tent on the 16th hole. It’s a wonderful thing that Copperhead Charities does in support of our military.”