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Businessman organizes golf tournament to help sick children

By JANE BOKUN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2000


KEYSTONE -- Like most people, Mark Clements wants all children to be healthy and happy.

So the resident of the Eagles development was particularly touched by the story of Jared Smith, a 7-year-old Fawn Ridge boy afflicted with neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects the nervous system.

"I wanted to do something to help," Clements said. So he set up a golf tournament last year at the Eagles Golf Course that raised $20,000 toward Jared's medical expenses.

"I did all the planning for that tournament in only seven weeks," Clements said. He and his wife, Dana Clements, a teacher at Westchase Elementary School, knew of Smith's plight through the school. "It killed us," he said.

This year he's going that idea one better.

Clements, vice president of ProSure Bonds Inc., a bond insurer for the construction industry, set up the ProSure Foundation through his company to help send children with cancer to a camp in Aspen, Colo.

The first Annual ProSure Foundation Golf Classic will begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Eagles Golf Course. It will feature sports celebrities, corporate sponsors and two full 18-hole golf courses. Each field will be limited to 128 players per course, but with more than 200 sponsors already signed up, Clements said there's always room for more players.

"I'm tickled pink that so many have opted to join the tournament for such a good cause," he said.

All proceeds from the tournament will sponsor children afflicted with cancer, chosen by All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. "We selected All Children's because it has the largest children's oncology center in the Southeast," Clements said.

The Rev. David Gerber, a Presbyterian minister and director of children and family services for the hospital, said he is charged with the daunting task of choosing the children who will receive money from the tournament. "With more than 100 children eligible, it will be hard," Gerber said, predicting that they will choose patients who are able to travel and yet have pressing medical needs.

Their destination is a week at former tennis star Andrea Jaeger's Silver Lining Ranch in Aspen. There, they and a medical representative will ride horses, whitewater raft and ski.

The cost of the four-person scramble type tournament is $90 per person and $300 for hole sponsors. Greens fees and cart, range balls, logo shirt, dinner, prizes, sports memorabilia and more. There will be first-, second- and third-place prizes along with long drive contests and closest-to-the-pin contests.

For information, call Clements at (813) 243-1110.

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