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120 golfers take part in the 34th WEF Hugh Martin Memorial Golf Tournament

The 34th Annual Wilkes Education Foundation (WEF) Hugh Martin Memorial Golf Tournament was held at Oakwoods Country Club on Thursday, May 2, 2024, raising a record $30,000 to be used to provide mini-grants and scholarships to Wilkes County Schools teachers and students.

A gun launch began at noon with 120 golfers participating. For 2023-24, the Hugh Martin Memorial Golf Tournament awarded $36,609.67 for 32 awards of up to $1,500 each to Wilkes County Schools teachers in the form of mini-grants for special projects not funded by the state or county. The mini-grants made possible by this year's tournament will be awarded this summer.

In addition to the mini-grants, WEF has awarded scholarships totaling $106,500 to Wilkes County students for the 2024-2025 academic year. In total, WEF has awarded over $2,073,610 to Wilkes County teachers and students over the past 40 years in support of education.

David McNeill, chairman of the golf tournament committee, said, “Some players play every year and come back not only for the fun and camaraderie, but also because they are supporting a great cause – Wilkes County Schools. I am grateful for the support of all 120 players, our 120 sponsors and the volunteers and committee members who helped make this year's tournament such a great success.”

The tournament was created in memory of Hugh Martin, who passed away in April 1990. Martin was an avid golfer and was a teacher at Mulberry Elementary School and Wilkes Central School before becoming a state and federal probation officer. “He supported any event that was meaningful to the students,” McNeill added. “Hugh always looked for the best in others.” His early death was a reminder to his friends: “We don't take anything away in life; we can only give.”

This year's tournament was held in honor and memory of Dr. Keith Bentley, a key initiator, founding and permanent board member, and supporter of the Wilkes Education Foundation (WEF) since its inception. Marcia Reynolds, Chair of the Scholarship Committee, presented Andrew Barlow with the first annual Dr. Keith Bentley Memorial Scholarship of $10,000. Dr. Bentley's wife, Aileen Bentley, and his children, Milton Bentley and Myra Bentley Lee, were in attendance at this year's golf tournament.

Carolina West Wireless served as the tournament's primary sponsor. Corporate sponsors included Window World, ECMD, Fourth Elm Construction, Brown and Brown and Wilcox Marketing. Arnold and Becky Lakey sponsored dinner and Larry and Diane Stone sponsored lunch. Both meals were provided by Can Do Catering. Hole-in-one sponsors included McNeill Chevrolet and Nissan, Randy Marion Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep, Phil Stevens Specialty Cars and Blue Ridge Tractor. In total, more than 120 individuals, groups and companies contributed to the event as hole sponsors.

In addition to the support of the players and sponsors, the Hugh Martin Memorial Golf Tournament is also made possible by the efforts of a dedicated group of foundation members and volunteers. Together they completed many tasks for the successful tournament including preparing treats for the players, overseeing snacks and beverages throughout the event, and assisting with registration and competitions. Special thanks go to the following individuals who volunteered their time and energy to the event: Connie and David McNeill, Bill Myers, Danny Holman, Arnold Lakey, Bill Myers, Charles Wooten, Marcia Reynolds, Marsh Lyall, Bert Young, Gordon Burns, Doris Stroud and Holden Abrams, and the staff at Oakwoods Country Club.

The Wilkes Education Foundation is a private, nonprofit, IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation dedicated to promoting educational excellence in the schools of Wilkes County. For information about donations to the WEF, contact Jody Hamby, 302 9th St, North Wilkesboro, NC 28659. For more information, visit www.wilkeseducationfoundation.org.