SIKESTON - The Paul Boyd Children's Charity Golf Tournament is an opportunity to support a worthy cause while enjoying a day on the links.
The four-person scramble tournament, scheduled for May 6 at the Bootheel Golf Club, is being held to raise funds to support the Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence which provides services to children who have been victims, according to Boyd who is Scott County's prosecuting attorney.
"A golf tournament seemed to be a good way to raise money and get people involved," Boyd said. "The network is very important to the people of Scott County given the services they provide to the children and their families as well as the aid they give the prosecution where facts indicate a crime has been committed."
"Childhood sexual abuse has always been a major social problem," said Tammy Gwaltney, executive director of the SEMO-NASV. "Statistically one in four children will be sexually abused before they are 18 - that's 25 percent of our child population - and there are thousands more being abused that I don't know about, that don't get reported."
When the network opened in 1998, it provided services to 40 children who had been victims of childhood sexual abuse.
"Last year in 2004, we provided care to 521, which was double the children we saw in 2003," Gwaltney said. "Part of the increase is just the awareness of those we work with - law enforcement, prosecutors, child welfare and juvenile officers. We work together as a team with all of those people as we investigate those cases and try to get perpetrators off the street."
Boyd said if the trend continues, the number could climb as high as 700 cases this year.
"All the services at the agency are free - the counseling, advocacy, the medical care, our outreach education program - everything is free, so we really depend on community support, which is why Paul is doing the charity golf tournament for us," Gwaltney said.
In 2004, over 80 children from Scott County were served by the SEMO-NASV. "Last year Scott County gave $2,000 to the center through the Sikeston Area United Way," Boyd noted, but with an increasing case load, the network is likely to have a corresponding increase in costs.
Organizers hope the tournament will become an annual event. "It's something that may draw regional support from individuals from the other counties who also receive services from the center," Boyd said.
In addition to Scott County, the SEMO-NASV serves nine other counties: New Madrid, Mississippi, Cape Girardeau, Stoddard, Pemiscot, Bollinger, Dunklin, Perry and Wayne.
The cost to play in the tournament this year is $400 per team or $100 per individual which includes all golf fees, dinner, drinks and awards. "If they sign up before May 3 they will get one free round of golf," Boyd said.
Registration is at 11 a.m. May 6 and the shotgun start is slated for 12:30 p.m.
Anybody and everybody is welcome to participate, Boyd said. Those who don't golf can make a direct contribution or can sponsor a team. Other ways to contribute include beverage cart sponsorships, corporate sponsorships and hole sponsorships.
For more information about sexual victims or the charity golf tournament call 573-332-1900.