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A Penny Per Birdie (or More) Really Adds Up

Michelle O'Neill
Jordan Spieth & his caddy, Michael Greller, line up a putt during the 2015 John Deere Classic, Silvis, IL.

If people give as much as last year, total Birdies for Charity donations over 48 years will exceed $100 million. This morning, the John Deere Classic kicked off the fundraiser at Deere and Company headquarters in Moline. Last year, donations totaled $12.3 million.

Credit https://www.birdiesforcharity.com/ / John Deere Classic, Birdies for Charity website
John Deere Classic, Birdies for Charity website

Director of the program, Kristy Ketcham-Jackson, says 521 nonprofits benefited from Birdies for Charity. People may choose which charity will receive their donation. Many pledge to give a penny per birdie scored during the tournament plus Wednesday's Pro-AM. Others give a lump sum.

Tournament profits and the John Deere Foundation will provide $325,000 to match donations.

Credit Michelle O'Neill / WVIK News
2017 Volunteer Chair, Pat Shouse, whose husband Mike has written a book called, "The Grunt Dome."

Pat Shouse, last year's volunteer chair, says her husband, Mike, has written a book. And he'll give the proceeds to the bonus fund. It's title is "The Grunt Dome" and features stories about the many, many volunteers who inspired the author with their determination and commitment to make the tournament great over four decades.

Deere and Company pays all the expenses for the Birdies program. So, charities receive 100%.

The donor who guesses the exact number of birdies will win a two-year lease for a new Lexus.

Since the John Deere Classic started Birdies for Charity in 1971, it's raised $93.6 million.

The tournament will be held the second week of July at TPC Deere Run in Silvis.

Officially, Michelle's title for 28 years was WVIK News Editor. She did everything there is to do in the newsroom and whatever was needed around the radio station. She also served as Acting News Director from September 2023 - January 2024.