By Jacob Arvidson
Disc golf has grown almost exponentially over the past year. But the sport's popularity with the staff and volunteer community of St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Peoria got a head start several years ago when the charity began partnering with the Ledgestone Insurance Open.
Since then, Ledgestone has grown into the biggest disc golf tournament in the world, and subsequently the money raised for charities like St. Jude expands each year as well. Before this year’s tournament, Ledgestone had already donated over $182,000 to St. Jude and other charities.
This philanthropy benefits both patrons of the charities and the sport of disc golf, with more local exposure attracting new players to area courses.
“Disc golf has 100 percent gotten bigger around our volunteer world,” said Mollie Sheperdson, Market Director at St. Jude Children's Hospital ALSAC, the fundraising arm of the hospital.
While awareness of disc golf and Ledgestone’s economic and charitable impact keep expanding throughout the Peoria region, Sheperdson said the disc golfers who travel from around the world to play at the Ledgestone Insurance Open have earned a favorable reputation as well.
“The generosity of the players that come to Central Illinois has received a lot of buzz,” Sheperdson said. “That's huge for these small communities.”
Growing the sport, locally and globally
Donations generated by Ledgestone have helped fund a permanent disc golf course at Camp Kearney - a youth summer camp ministry of the South Side Mission of Peoria.
They also have rippled across the world, says Dustin Leatherman, Executive Director of the Paul McBeth Foundation.
“We’re putting in two nine-hole courses in Medellin, Colombia and Ledgestone is our primary sponsor for those,” Leatherman said, adding that Colombia currently has no permanent disc golf courses in the entire country.
No doubt the impact of Ledgestone and its players will continue to reverberate locally and globally.