Close to 200 golfers turned out for the inaugural Stephen Y. Coleman Memorial Golf Outing at Lambert Acres Thursday, helping raise close to $20,000 for the Cancer Institute at UT Medical Center and the Maryville Alcoa Home Builders Association.
Coleman passed away last July after battling brain cancer. His friends and family knew they wanted to do something to help keep his spirit and memory alive.
“He fought a good fight against cancer,” Stephen’s brother Landon Coleman said. “He was always very gentleman-like through his struggles. He was always ‘yes, ma’am or no, ma’am’ to my mom when she was having to take care of him.
“(The tournament) was just a good way to keep his name out there and a good way to fight the terrible disease of cancer. I know not everybody has had brain cancer, but somebody in their family or somebody they know has had cancer, and it’s just a bad disease.”
The tournament featured 47 four-member teams competing for first, second and third place prizes in three different flights, in addition to longest drive and closest-to-the-tee contests. The day also included lunch and a raffle that included prizes like sports memorabilia and hotels stays.
“People were generous and donated most of the prizes so we didn’t have to use any of the money (that was raised),” Landon Coleman said.
The turnout and support from golfers and sponsors was so positive that tournament chairman Tony Cooke and Landon Coleman said they plan on having a memorial tournament on the first Thursday in June every year.
“He was a sportsman,” Cooke said of Stephen Coleman. “He played all kinds of sports. He had one of the biggest, wildest backswings of anybody. I mean, he’d have a 15-foot chip shot and that pitching wedge would come all the way back, but somehow he’d slow it down and hit it an flop it onto the green. He really loved golf.”
The money raised during the golf tournament will be split evenly between UT Medical Center and the Maryville Alcoa Home Builders Association.
While this is the first golf tournament in Stephen Coleman’s honor, it’s not the first time Landon Coleman and others have set out to raise money in his brother’s name.
“We had a couple friends come together last year,” Landon Coleman said. “Stephen was a big Tennessee fan and loved tailgating. So they came up with the idea of tailgating against cancer.”
Stephen’s friends and family sold ‘Tailgate Against Cancer’ T-shirts at tailgates during UT football games in the fall. The money raised went to The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University, where Stephen was treated.
Landon Coleman also created a non-profit organization under the Tailgating Against Cancer name and has hopes to do more with the organization next season.
“We sold them for like a month,” Landon Coleman said of the shirts. “Maybe two or three games we’d take them over to UT while we were tailgating and people would come by who we didn’t even know and say ‘hey, where you’d get one of those t-shirts?’”
Even though the shirts were orange and gray, Landon Coleman said that opposing fans purchased them, expressing the shared bond of the loss of a loved one from cancer.
“We’re hooking up with UT Medical Center and in the fall we’re going to have some more stuff,” Landon said. “They’re hoping to pick out a game like Florida, a big game, and get the fraternities and sororities to sell t-shirts that say ‘Tailgating Against Cancer.’ That’s another way we’re remembering Stephen and fighting the fight against cancer too.”