Super Bowl QB McMahon announces local benefit for wounded vets, others
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    Exclamation Super Bowl QB McMahon announces local benefit for wounded vets, others

    Posted on Tue, Aug. 19, 2008
    Super Bowl QB McMahon announces local benefit for wounded vets, others
    By MIKE HENRY
    mhenry@bradenton.com

    Tampa will be the epicenter of the pro football world during the weekend of Super Bowl XLIII. But Lakewood Ranch won't be far behind.

    Former Chicago Bears Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon will host a star-studded, two-day celebrity extravaganza before the game at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club. It begins Jan. 29 with an evening under the stars at The Lake Club clubhouse, followed Jan. 30 by a 36-team celebrity golf tournament.

    McMahon made the announcement during a Monday morning press conference at the country club. The event will benefit the Wounded Warrior Battalion, the Lynda McMahon Ferguson Memorial Foundation for Literacy and the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund.

    McMahon, a 6-handicap golfer who participates in about 200 charity events a year, plans to draw on his widespread connections to bring some of the top names in sports to the Lakewood Ranch event.

    "I am thrilled to host such an exciting event," McMahon said. "I want to thank the awesome people at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club, its owners, staff and the residents of this amazing community.

    "The list of celebrities who have already indicated their acceptance for the event is phenomenal and getting stronger."

    Although organizers are withholding an official list until commitments are confirmed, McMahon hopes to attract Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Brett Favre (if the Jets aren't playing in the Super Bowl), Marcus Allen, Lynn Swann, Ottis Anderson, Gale Sayers, Mike Ditka, Seth Joyner, former major league pitcher Shane Rawley and Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Ed Moses, who attended the press gathering.

    Each celebrity will be paired with a foursome on either Lakewood Ranch's Cypress Links or King's Dunes courses. The cost is $10,000 for a foursome and $2,750 for an individual.

    Schroeder-Manatee Ranch president and CEO Rex Jensen expects the event to turn the area into a secondary destination for Super Bowl visitors. "We are always seeking a challenge," Jensen said. "This is the kind of event that, if we get behind it, will help uplift the community.

    "The causes are darned good ones, and we can use the tournament to showcase our community and mobilize people in support of the charities it benefits."

    U.S. Marine Corps and Army veteran Ed Salau represented the Wounded Warrior Battalion at the press conference. Located in Camp Lejeune, N.C., it is an active duty Marine Corps battalion where wounded, sick and recovering service personnel can go to rehabilitate and recover while undertaking a new mission to transition back to combat or civilian life.

    Salau, 37, is the charities liaison for the group. He had his left leg amputated above the knee after being wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq in November 2004.

    "Every day at Camp Lejeune, I get to see how charities benefit recovering Marines," Salau said. "It's going to be an honor to be involved with this tournament and see the donors working every step of the way to make it happen."

    McMahon visited Iraq two years ago with the group Stars for Stripes, which arranges celebrity tours that visit U.S. troops in combat.

    "I have asked my friends from the Wounded Warrior Battalion to be an active part and they will be here," McMahon said. "Meeting them and hearing their stories is inspirational. In my mind, these men and women are the real heroes and celebrities of the event."

    The Lynda McMahon Ferguson Memorial Foundation for Literacy honors the memory of McMahon's late sister, who died on Mother's Day after a lifelong battle with severe asthma. She was 44.

    "She was a mother and a grandmother, and we wanted to do something for her," McMahon said. "Literacy is always important. If you can't read, you can't function in this world."
    Mike Henry, sports reporter, can be reached at 708-7909.

    Ellie

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