Week 51 (part 2) – OCSF…aka Cox Classic

A little over a week ago, Jason Dufner won the 2013 PGA Championship, one of the four major events on the PGA Tour. Dufner is close to all of us here in Omaha who are associated with the Cox Classic presented by Lexus of Omaha, since he played here in 2001, 2002, 2003 & 2006 (his best finish being T8 in 2001).

Jason Dufner 2006

(Photo shown is Jason in 2006 at the Cox Classic courtesy of PGATour Images, 2006).

I’ve been involved on the board of the Omaha Community Service Foundation (OCSF dba Cox Classic) since the spring of 2006. At my first event as a board member in 2006 I watched this new 2013 PGA Champion “struggle” to finish -11 and tied for 28th.  But big things were in store for him!

That’s the beauty of the Cox Classic, which is a PGA Tour event on the Web.com Tour. The Web.com Tour is the developmental tour and the pathway for players to get to the U.S.-based PGA Tour. At the end of the Web.com season, the top 25 players on the money list are given PGA Tour memberships (cards) for the next season.  These 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2014 season will be handed out at a ceremony in Omaha immediately following the conclusion of the Cox Classic on Sunday, August 25th.  Another 25 cards are awarded to the top finishers in a four tournament series of events involving players from both the Web. com Tour and the PGA Tour.

One player who will receive a PGA Tour card on Sunday in Omaha is Tim Wilkinson. We had the pleasure of having Tim stay at our house during three tournaments from 2006 to 2008. He has had a great year on the Web.com Tour and irregardless of how he does at the Cox Classic, he will end up in the top 25 on the money list. I have followed him every week on the Web.com Tour over the past several years…and next year will get to follow him and watch him on the PGA Tour!

So, you might not know many of the players on the Web.com Tour…now.  But you will likely know many of them someday. Case in point is Jason Dufner and Tim Wilkinson and the dozens of other players on the PGA Tour who have come through Omaha.

The Omaha event, the Cox Classic, is a gem of a tournament at any level.  The Web.com players look forward to coming to Omaha because it gives them a feel for what the PGA Tour will be like. In fact, Omaha has more of a PGA Tour feel than many PGA Tour events!  The Omaha event draws over 120,000 spectators, generates over $9 million of economic impact to the area, raises over $100,000 for local charities and is assisted by nearly 1,000 community volunteers. It’s an outstanding community event.  This week Giving50x52 made a contribution.

cox classic 2013 2


What the Omaha tournament will look like after this year is not perfectly clear. The event is in the last year of a contract with major sponsor Cox Communications and with the Champions Run golf course.  Both have been outstanding partners for the event!

One thing that is certain is that we plan to be back in 2014 with another Web.com Tour event. Omahans care about this event and its presentation, and we will do whatever it takes to host another quality event in 2014!

Week 48 (part 2) – Outward Bound Omaha

On May 22nd, as part of the OmahaGives! day, Giving50x52 gave $50 to Outward Bound Omaha. This organization is headed by my good friend Scott Hazelrigg, who worked hard to bring Outward Bound to Omaha.

As background…in 2010, Outward Bound Omaha was created to bring high quality experiential education programs to Nebraska. Based on a curriculum that is focused on developing high quality leaders within the Omaha metro area, they serve students through school-based programs, one-day challenge course programs, and backcountry expeditions. In addition to youth programs, Outward Bound Omaha provides programs that focus on corporate teambuilding and educator training.

Outward BoundPreviously, I’ve been invited to participate in the Outward Bound Omaha Hitchcock High Ropes Challenge Course but could not attend, so when another invitation came this summer I made it a priority to participate on June 30th…and did it with my whole family.

The first part of the session included several activities to get to know the others in our group. There were the four Conleys and ten others in this group. We then went to their Team Development Course and worked as a group to solve a couple problems that just may have saved the world!

Finally, it was time to ascend up the 40 foot Hitchcock High Ropes Challenge Course. After we climbed up the cargo nets to the first landing the instructor asked us if we were “a) in our comfort zone, b) in our learning zone, or c) in our panic zone.”

Well, at that point, I’m thinking this is pretty simple, “A…bring it on”.

Yep, maybe I was a little over confident at that point.

The next activities involved walking on a thin cable about 25 feet up in the air and having to cross over another cable in the middle. I can’t do justice to the level of “learning” and often “panic” that this caused. We were always tethered and safe, but that seemed to provide surprisingly little comfort.

But in the end, it was a really fun and challenging way to spend a Sunday. I didn’t think I’d be challenged.  I was. The activities creatively and firmly reinforced the importance of teamwork. I might still be up on that wire if it weren’t for the great help of my team.

The website for Outward Bound Omaha says that by completing the Hitchcock High Ropes Challenge Course you might discover that there is more in you than you know.

Very true.  You also might find out that there is a great team around you and the importance of working together.

Week 42 (Special Edition) – NeAD

On February 22, 2013, the Omaha World-Herald ran a story about Giving50x52 (which was very well written by Erin Grace!). By 2pm that day, Frank and Marlene Turk, who I did not know, stopped in my office at UNO and presented me a formal invitation letter and information about the upcoming biennial Nebraska Association of the Deaf (NeAD) conference in June.

This was the first time I had sat down and visited with someone who was deaf. We exchanged handwritten notes for about 15 minutes. They were both very nice, but I made no promises and said I’d think about it.

I thought Frank would forget about this, but he kept in contact with me and introduced me to Jonathan Scherling, president of NeAD. So I accepted their invitation and on Saturday, June 8th, I attended their conference to present briefly about Giving50x52 and to give NeAD a $50 bill. Below is a photo with Jonathan on the left and Frank on the right.

NeAD photo 1NeAD was established in 1902 as the chief spokesperson for all deaf and hard of hearing people. It is affiliated with the National Association of the Deaf, headquartered in Silver Spring MD. Both organizations exist primarily to preserve, protect, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of all deaf and hard of hearing people. 

Their ultimate goal is to enhance public and legislative awareness of the needs and interests unique to deafness specific to bringing to the targeted population the best possible American life.

The best estimates in Nebraska are that approximately 6,000 people are deaf or unable to hear normal conversation (0.34%) and about 70,000 people who are hard of hearing or have difficulty hearing normal conversation (3.93%).

The NeAD conference was well organized and attended (over 130 participants). The theme was “Gateway to Collaborative Partnership”.  Everyone at the NeAD conference made me feel so welcome…it was truly a pleasure and an honor for me to join them and make a brief presentation.

Through my meetings with Frank and Jonathan and attending the NeAD event, I think I’ve gained a greater appreciation of the challenges of the deaf and of the importance for all of us to ensure that our community is inclusive of this wonderful population.


Week 40 (part 2) – Nothing But Nets

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and quite often the official start of mosquito season. To most of us, mosquitoes are a nuisance and seasonal, but what if that season (mosquito) never ended, and was deadly?

My favorite columnist is undoubtedly Rick Reilly. For years, I’ve looked forward to getting the weekly Sports Illustrated/ESPN Magazine and immediately turn to read his column…and I’ve read all of his books. One of his columns that I have never forgotten was from April 2006 titled, Nothing But Nets.  Here is a link to that column.


Nothing but netsRick Reilly’s column and his leadership led to the creation of the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign. His efforts have inspired the largest global, grassroots campaign to fight malaria. It’s hard to imagine a better tag line for a person or columnist!  Rick is nothing short of impressive to me as a writer and humanitarian!

Since 2006, more than $45 million has been raised to send over 7 million life-saving bed nets to families across sub-Saharan Africa. Here are some facts about malaria:

  • Malaria is one of the world’s most serious global health issues. More than 200 million people each year are infected, and more than 600,000 of those die, EACH YEAR.
  • Malaria is particularly devastating in Africa where the disease is a leading cause of death among children. Every 60 seconds, a child in Africa dies from a malaria infection.
  • Malaria is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that bite at night.
  • Malaria is a preventable disease.
  • A long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed net creates a physical barrier against deadly malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
  • The insecticide woven into the net kills mosquitoes, preventing them from biting their next victim. This reduces malaria across a community.
  • Bed nets can reduce malaria transmission by 90 percent in areas with high bed net coverage rates. Thanks to bed nets and other tools, malaria deaths in Africa have dropped by one third in the past decade.

Until today, I had offered up nothing but air balls on Rick’s effort.  Since just $10 provides a net and saves a life, today Giving50x52 funded 5 nets in this mid-week effort.

“Nothing but net!”

To find out more, please go to:  http://www.nothingbutnets.net

Week 39 (part 3) – OmahaGives!

Of course I’m playing!

Back in Week 21 I blogged about #GivingTuesday and that I had missed that national day of giving held in November 2012.

So, when I heard about OmahaGives24, I wasn’t going to miss Omaha’s new 24-hour, online giving event!

Omaha Gives! was organized by the Omaha Community Foundation to grow Omahagives24philanthropy in the Omaha area. Matching funds of $500,000 and additional prize money will be made available to amplify charitable donations made on this day, which is TODAY, May 22, 2013.

Nearly 300 organizations that are headquartered or provide services in the Omaha area are represented on omahagives24.org.  At least 94% of every dollar will go to the nonprofit selected (there are about 6% in fees for credit card processing and online technology).

Giving50x52 just gave $50 to Film Streams, Inc.  The mission of Film Streams is to enhance the cultural environment of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area through the presentation and discussion of film as an art form.

So, Omaha, it’s a 24 hour party of giving…come join the party! 


Speaking of the Omaha Community Foundation, there was an excellent story in the Omaha World-Herald on Sunday, May 19th about the leadership transition at the organization. Sara Boyd, currently President and COO, will become CEO this summer. Sara is an outstanding leader and Omaha is fortunate to have her at the helm of this important organization.



Finally, today is my significantly older brother Jeff’s birthday, so I wanted to wish him a happy birthday. If you round your age to the nearest decade, he is now in the 60 year old category! Happy birthday Jeff!

Week 39 (part 2) – Moore, Oklahoma

MOORE, OKLAHOMA – Thinking of our neighbors.

Moore OklahomaThe devastating May tornadoes have left most Oklahomans (and others) stunned and wondering what they could do to help.  United Way of Central Oklahoma advises that monetary donations are the best way to assist. The organization has activated its disaster relief fund effective Monday, May 20, 2013, so individuals may contribute specifically to the May tornadoes relief and recovery efforts.


Week 35 – William

Good greetings, my lords and ladies.  Methinks ‘tis good to share character from the lips of Sir Shakespeare:

“It’s not enough to speak, but to speak true.There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Be great in act, as you have been in thought. Assume a virtue, if you have it not. This above all: to thine own self be true. Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”Talk like shakespeare 2

Prithee gentlewomen and gentlemen, t’would be folly, on me yearlong journey o’ giving, to ignore the toils of a gang of local arts jackanapes. So, by my troth I give my soul, my blood, my heart, my life….ok, only $50…to Nebraska Shakespeare.

Hast ye shalt come hither to Shakespeare on the Green many upcoming summer’s evenings:

  • Shakespeare 2013Twelfth Night: June 20-23, July 3, 5 &7
  • Titus Andronicus: June 27-30, July 2 & 6

Shakespeare on the Green is produced by Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, Inc., a non-profit organization that annually serves 50,000 individuals through quality theatrical performances and educational forums including Shakespeare on the Green, fall performances and educational tours encompassing over 35 communities throughout Nebraska and Western Iowa, Camp Shakespeare for students ages 8 – 18, Music Alive!, a collaborative performance for Middle and High Schools students in cooperation with the Omaha Symphony and a sonnet writing contest for students and adults. For more information, go to http://www.nebraskashakespeare.com/

Until seven days forth, fare thee well thou bootless rough-hewn haggards!

Week 34 – Completely KIDS

Completely KIDS is an Omaha nonprofit whose mission is to develop youth and their families through Out-of-School Time and Family Strengthening programs in communities where they live.

Their programming annually serves more than 2,000 children and their families to give them the tools they need to become confident, contributing members of our community.

Completely KIDS addresses the needs of the whole child through youth development, Completely KIDSacademic, nutrition, and family programs. They offer a safe and educational experience for kids ages 4-18 during the often unsupervised hours before and after school, and during the summer (what they call “Out-of-School Time”).

Completely KIDS, formerly known as Camp Fire USA Midlands Council, Inc., was founded in 1920 as a club program that served girls and young women. As the Omaha Council of Camp Fire Girls, it flourished through the 1960s with a membership of 4,000.

In the 1970s, the program, along with many youth clubs nationally, began a steady decline. Boys were admitted in 1976.

Omaha’s Camp Fire began to reach out to the needs of underserved communities in the 1980s. This included self-reliance and enrichment activities for after-school programs in North and South Omaha.

Services to children in homeless shelters began in 1991. In 1995, they dissolved the club program to eliminate a duplication of services and began utilizing its traditional programming skills operating after-school programs for the underserved.

In 2011, they disaffiliated from the national Camp Fire organization and changed their name to Completely KIDS. This allowed the organization to keep more dollars in our community and have a name that reflects a local mission.

Completely KIDS has an outstanding staff and is led by Penny Parker, who has served as Executive Director for over 20 years.

This past week (on April 10th) I had the opportunity to attend the Completely KIDS annual author luncheon. Dr. Michael Osit, author of, “Generation Text: Raising Well-Adjusted Kids in an Age of Instant Everything,” spoke. After the luncheon I briefly spoke with Penny and provided her a $50 contribution to Completely KIDS with my compliments on the great work they do!

Below is a link to find out more about Completely KIDS:


Week 33 (part 2) – NE FBLA

As I mentioned in my previous post, last week was the annual State Leadership Conference (SLC) for Nebraska Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).  The SLC is a three-day FBLA 2012LightBulbLogoconference held each spring. The conference consists of business meetings, competitive events, seminars, workshops, election of state officers, awards, special programs, and other planned leadership and educational activities. About 2,200 Nebraska students participated in the 2013 SLC.

FBLA is a national career student association for students in grades 7-12 who are interested in business or business education careers. Over 5,300 students in more than 130 high schools in Nebraska participate in the FBLA program. Benefits of FBLA membership are business proficiencies, community responsibility, leadership skills, and self-confidence.

FBLA provides the business leaders of tomorrow with the necessary skills to successfully compete in the job market, pursue postsecondary education, or manage personal skills. Members learn how to lead and participate in group discussions by engaging in practical problem-solving and decision-making activities. FBLA members learn the value of competition through directed competitive events.

The FBLA State Advisor for Nebraska is Beverly Newton, who does an incredible job leading the organization.

A few years ago the Nebraska FBLA Foundation Trust was formed. The Nebraska FBLA Foundation Trust is not-for-profit, volunteer-based endowed trust with the purpose of supporting the financial needs of Nebraska FBLA members. The Foundation serves Nebraska FBLA members by providing support for:

  • Stipends to assist Nebraska FBLA Competitors to attend the National Leadership Conference.
  • Leadership development activities for Nebraska students involved in FBLA activities.
  • Student scholarship.

Contributions to the Foundation remain intact and interest from the Trust is used for member support.

This week $50 was contributed to the Nebraska FBLA Foundation Trust…to support a great organization.


Week 26 – Special Olympics

It was 26 weeks ago that I took the plunge and started this yearlong journey of giving and blogging. So, it seemed fitting at this halfway point to take another plunge…as in the Special Olympics Nebraska Polar Plunge.polar plunge graphic

This is taking “hands-on” giving to a whole new level!

As I arrived at Lake Cunningham to check in, many participants were tailgating while the dive team was cutting a large hole in the ice from the shoreline…using a chain saw. Participants in this polar plunge don’t jump in from a dock, but rather jog or walk in from the shore and wade out about 25 feet to touch a mannequin and wade back.

IMG_0792Overall, this was a very fun and invigorating event. This was my first plunge, and I’m sure not my last! Thanks to Silvia for attending and taking the photos!

IMG_0795 2Hundreds of people participated in the plunge and the organizers announced that about $100,000 was raised for Special Olympics Nebraska.

I contributed $50 for the opportunity to wade in ice-cold water, plus handed the organizers a $50 bill on the way out from giving50x52 with my thanks for all that they do.

Special Olympics Nebraska is a non-profit organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect across the state.

From Special Olympics Nebraska’s beginnings over 40 years ago, they have grown from a few hundred athletes to over 5,000 athletes, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics Nebraska is active in over 110 communities statewide and can be found in hundreds of classrooms through Project Unify and Young Athletes Program initiatives.

Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship.

To learn more about the great things that Special Olympics Nebraska does, go to their website at http://www.sone.org/.