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Sikeston County Club is DRIVING4LIFE

Sunday, October 5, 2003

SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Country Club is joining DRIVING4LIFE in an effort to raise money for research into a cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Tom Watson, winner of 39 PGA tournaments, including seven majors and four Champion Tour events, also joined DRIVING4LIFE when his longtime caddy was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year.

There is currently no cure for ALS, in which the body's nervous system gradually degenerates, robbing the victims of the ability to walk, speak and eventually swallow or breathe. Most ALS victims live 2-5 years after diagnosis. A tournament is schedule for Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. at the Sikeston Country Club.

It will be a scramble format consisting of two ladies and two ladies, two men, or two senior men for ages 60 and older. Prizes will be awarded in each division. Immediately after play, a dinner and auction will be held in the ballroom. Among local business donating items for the auction, items also included will be signed items from Watson and Jeff Julian, a PGA Pro from the Branson area that also suffers with ALS.

"We're thrilled to join with the campaign to raise critical funds for DRIVING4LIFE," said Janie Wheeler, tournament director on behalf of DRIVING4LIFE. "It's a chance for local players to have a lot of fun, and help a great cause at the same time."

All money raised for DRIVING4LIFE will directly fund research at the ALS Therapy Development Foundation (TDF), a Cambridge, Ma., based nonprofit company dedicate to finding a cure for the disease.

James Heywood, whose brother Stephen was diagnosed with ALS, founded ALSTDF in 1990. The nonprofit biotechnology company researches and screen drugs and develops pre-clinical and clinical trials to translate these drugs into potential treatments for ALS victims.

"Thirty-thousand people are affected by ALS," said Watson. "I've seen first hand the cruelty of this disease, and I'm determined to do my part to help find a cure. Doctors tell us one may be out there, but money is needed for critical research. That's where all these local efforts, such as fund raising golf tournaments, will help.

"For profit pharmaceutical companies spend their dollars on afflictions and diseases that affect the most people... illnesses like heart disease and cancer that affect millions," Watson continued. "And while we're deeply grateful that millions are not diagnosed with ALS, it is still one of the most devastating illnesses for those that do have it. Eight thousand new cases are diagnosed each year, and that is 8,000 too many."

Anyone needing information about the golf tournament at the Sikeston Country Club, wanting to become a sponsor or wanting to donate items to the auction should contact Kevin Collins at (573) 472-4225. Entries will be accepted through Oct. 5.