Memorial Day weekend has held special meaning for Danny, Ann and Renee Smith as that Friday has been the day set aside for the J.B. Smith Memorial Golf Tournament for the past 14 years. The fundraiser is hosted by the Smith family and the Charles Town Rotary Club each year.
The tournament memorializes the life of Jeffrey Brenton Smith, the son of Danny and Ann Smith, who lost his life in a car accident Aug. 15, 1998 at the young age of 23. In 2000, the family, along with the Rotary, began hosting the tournament to raise funds for charities that had meaning for the younger Smith.
According to Ann, the first year of the tournament, Rotary gave $11,500 to the Jefferson County Community Ministries. In the second year, $16,500 went to the Jefferson Memorial Park in Charles Town. Those funds were used to establish a walking trail around the park where J.B. and his sister, Renee, spent so much time as children. Both were involved in the swimming and tennis programs at the park.
Third year funds in the amount of $21,500 went the Shenandoah Women's Center and the Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic garnered $25,000 in year four. Ann explained that beginning with the fifth year, funds were divided. In addition to supporting several charities, the Rotary Club of Charles Town-J.B. Smith Memorial Fund was established with the Eastern WV Community Foundation.
"The J.B. Smith fund will provide perpetual funding for Jefferson Memorial Park, high school baseball in Jefferson County at both high schools and the Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic," Ann said. Currently the value of the fund with the 2013 donation is $88,700.
The golf tournament held May 24 raised a total of $27,700; funds which were presented at a picnic held at Jefferson Memorial Park Tuesday.
"I am very touched by the generosity of the community we live in," Ann said as she introduced her family and recognized the major sponsors of the 2013 tournament. Those sponsors included Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Jefferson Security Bank, BB&T, Altona Farm, The Anvil Restaurant , Brookewood Builders and Developers of Gahanna, Ohio and Lee Snyder and Snyder Environmental Services.
"Lee only swings golf clubs once per year," Ann laughed. "And ironically, they are J.B.'s clubs."
Depsite the cold and windy weather at this year's event, there were more golfers than ever with 168 split between Locust Hill and Sleepy Hollow. In addition, The Anvil hosted an evening reception where prizes were awarded to the golf teams which saw attendance topping over 250.
Receiving funds at Tuesday's picnic, in addition to the EPWV Community Foundation fund were Jefferson and Washington high school baseball teams. Mark Hash (WHS) and J.P. Jones (JHS) were on hand to accept $1,000 each for their programs. Both men shared how important the donation is to their respective programs, improving field conditions and providing a quality baseball program.
Charles Town Mayor Peggy Smith accepted $8,000 from the tournament funds as well as $2,500 via the Community Foundation which will help repave the walking trail as well as repair lighting at the park pool.
The Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic also accepted funds. Vicki Shean spoke of the organization's great appreciation for the $9,000 contribution as well as the total $125,000 given since the start of the tournament.
Ann Smith shared with the guests Tuesday that the tournament began as a grief healing process for their family upon losing J.B.
"We will never understand why he was taken so young, but we are sure he is hleping someone in a different place now," she said. "In his honor, we have raised now over $375,000 for community charities and the permanent foundation now has almost $88,000 in assets.
Giving those figures, Ann went on to say that the 15th anniversary of the tournament in 2014 will be the final tournament.
"At the end of the final tournament in 2014, we hope to have raised over $400,000," Ann said.