Episode #23 – HOW WE WILL GROW THE SPORT (W/ JOHN HEATON – EVENT CHAIR ST. JUDE INVITATIONAL)
DISCS & ZEN
HOW WE WILL GROW THE SPORT
John is a player, an inventor and innovator, an entrepreneur, and a DG philanthropist who has a DEDICATION to growing our wonderful sport.
I grew up in a small town in Northern IL; Seneca.
I’ve been a Frisbee fanatic since the 5th grade; freestyle and then some ultimate in college.
In 1984, right out of college, I moved to Kansas City. I played serious club ultimate for years, which was on and off throughout my disc golf career.
In the summer of 1987 I was told of a “disc golf course” in town. I went there (Swope Park) and was immediately hooked.
I went on to become the PDGA Rookie of the Year in 1988.
I’ve played in hundreds of tournaments. No 1st in majors but some good finishes.
25 years in medical / surgical device & equipment sales, marketing & product development.
I’ve traveled a lot for work, which has allowed me to play well over 600 courses.
I am now trying to use my product development experience to create some helpful devices for disc golf.
Founded Whirld Sports LLC in 2010
As for the St. Jude effort … I had read some time ago, a bit of history on the PGA and how involvement with charity was one of the things that were attributed to the explosive growth experienced in the PGA Tour from the 70’s through the 90’s. That stuck with me. Then in 2012, Dana Vicich went to PDGA worlds and used his disc golf as a means to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Both his aunt and mother had gone through battles with cancer.
His raising nearly $5000 was the trigger for me to realize that our sport could become a powerhouse for charity and that just as it help the PGA, it could significantly impact the growth and trajectory of disc golf. Dana and I did a lot of scheming and plotting as to how we might make something significant happen. We didn’t really get much more than a plan developed but then I received a call from a long time friend, Crazy John Brooks. He mentioned that the wife of a friend of his was now working with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and had contact him to discuss how disc golf might become involved in helping St. Jude. As it turns out, Brian Graham, at the PDGA, had just been given the green light by the PDGA Board to seek out a national charity partner that the PDGA could support. It was all a bit of divine providence, if you ask me. Well, long story short, things came together very quickly. Annabelle Udo-O’Malley at St. Jude, Dana Vicich, Crazy John, Brian Graham, and I, along with others, put together the plan that lead to the Inaugural St. Jude Disc Golf Charity Invitational. The epic location of Bayonet Golf Course was chosen and the rest is history.
All in all, it amounted to about 200 disc golfers becoming actively involved in fundraising. Through their efforts, we raised over $225,000. My sincere belief is that if we got more disc golfers involved in this effort we could raise millions of dollars. If we did that, disc golf would be on the evening news, ESPN, Good Morning America, The Today Show, etc, etc. The story of disc golfers raising money to help kids faced with cancer and other life-threatening diseases, is so compelling, the news would reverberate like nothing disc golf has ever done before.
All we need to do is to get more disc golfers involved in the fund raising effort.
Making the Whirld Better,
St. Jude Disc Golf Charity Invitational
Chief Executive Officer
Whirld Sports LLC
(PDGA # 4409)
Try the Scepter use discount code: MBD10 on WhirldSports.com
PAT – Bug Spray.
JOIN MIND BODY DISC IN DONATING TO ST. JUDE!
Every little bit counts, please give what you can. Together we can make a difference.
Remember, kids are the future of our sport. And for many kids, St. Jude is the key to their future.
How your donation helps:
- Thanks to donors like you, no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.
- St. Jude will continue to improve the treatment of childhood cancer and other deadly diseases through its groundbreaking research.
SIGNED BOOK GIVEWAWAY
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