Coats for Kids golfers on brink of biggie

As Bill Sisson traveled through Shady Cove on the way to the coast, his car broke down and he never left. Eight years later, the man that likes to "stay under the radar" stepped into the limelight as he assumed the 2009 Presidency of the Upper Rogue Action Team. The team is known for the Shady Cove Open "Coats for Kids" Golf Tournament. Sisson, a business owner, exudes energy when he talks about helping local children.
   
 

About 14 years ago, two Shady Cove residents, former Mayor Jerry
Thompson and Carl Dupsloft became aware that disadvantaged children
were suffering through the cold Oregon winters because of inadequate
outerwear. Thompson and Dupsloft organized their friends to buy coats
that were then donated to the school for distribution, Sisson said.
   
Shortly
after that winter, Jay Moore moved to town. Moore and Thompson, both
avid golfers, came up with the idea of a tournament to buy coats. Out
of that first tournament in 1999, about 25 coats were bought. The title
"Coats for Kids" is still the team’s trademark but the proceeds are now
used for more than just winter coats, according to Sisson.
   
"We’re
all about kids," he said while discussing other projects the team has
supported. Besides coats, the team began providing shoes for kids. In
2007-08, 250 pairs of shoes were bought and donated to children. The
shoe project is not a one-shot thing but year-round. Shady Cove
Principal, Tiffany O’Donnell, now has an ongoing slush fund for
emergencies, explained  Sisson.
   
The team has helped with
reading programs  in Eagle Point and Shady Cove, summer camps,
playground equipment and with other donations for needy children and
their families.
   
Occasionally, however, the team takes on
other challenges.. Four years ago, Shady Cove resident John Borges was
in need of a kidney transplant and a donor had been found. Sisson said
the team jumped at the idea to offer financial help to the Borgeses for
a month long stay in Portland.  Borges said he is grateful for the
financial help from the team and from many other community members,
including, of course, the kidney donor who holds a special place in his
heart.
   
For 2009, the team has $6,000 earmarked towards a
special project that is still in the planning stages. The project will
benefit many youth in Shady Cove but because all details have not been
resolved Sisson could not discuss it. But he did say, "It’s a neat
thing," an expression Sisson uses frequently when discussing the team’s
projects.
   
Sisson is modest and credits the other board
members for their hard work and the team’s successes. They are: Tiffany
O’Donnell, Patty Claeys, Nick Barbato, Joe Barbato, Nat Ra, Dennis
Gerke, Cindy McDonald, Bill Ferguson and Arnold Dawkins.
   
 In
order to help more kids in the Upper Rogue, the team opened the
tournament to 106 players, up from the previous 42 participants.
   
Sisson
said Eagle Point PremierWest has been a major sponsor and that Shady
Cove Washington Mutual (now Chase) Bank Manager Cindy McDonald brought
her "gang" to run the putting contests almost since the first
tournament. Many others have also pitched in with donations for the
after dinner auction that brings in the majority of funds.
   
Golfers
are enticed to compete because of the fun and the prizes, including a
million dollar hole-in-one contest, a $10,000 putt contest and a new
truck. So far, no one has won the million dollars, said Sisson.
   
"Golf
is a great game- an honorable game," contends Sisson.  It is doubtful
anyone in the community could argue with that philosophy.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent   

   

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