Golf marathon benefits Fight On Foundation

By on June 22, 2016

 

Pat and Joe Ward estimate they’ve played the Foxchase golf course at least 250 times apiece. (Photo by Dick Wanner)

Pat and Joe Ward estimate they’ve played the Foxchase golf course at least 250 times apiece. (Photo by Dick Wanner)

Dennis and Betty Ward raised an unusual set of twins. Unusual, because they were born 10 years apart. Joe, who’s a little bit grayer and, at 5-foot-5, half-an-inch taller than his younger-by-a-decade self, is a 1991 Ephrata High School graduate who’s been playing golf since the age of five. Pat is a 2001 EHS grad and has been following his brother and their dad around nearby golf courses since he was old enough to hold a club.

Or maybe it’s Pat who’s half-an-inch taller. Hard to tell, actually, and getting them to stand still back-to-back for a second, just to settle the issue? Not gonna happen.

The Ward men are a competitive duo. They have successful careers. Joe is a senior executive with the American arm of Bunzl PLC, a British company that serves a wide range of international clientele, mostly in the food industry. He also owns Ward Strategies, LLC, a food industry consultant. Pat is moving up the ranks at Travelers Insurance.

They have families. Joe and his wife, Laurie, have 17-year-old Megan, 14-year-old Michael, and Madison, who’s 13. Pat and his wife, Amy, have Owen, who is five, and three-year-old Luke.

They have a lot going on in their lives, but when they’re on the golf course only one thing matters, and that is getting the ball into the cup 18 times with at least one less stroke than your brother.

Joe and Pat have the same solid physique.

“We’re short,” Joe said, “but we can both hit the ball a good distance.”

That distance they both attribute in large measure to Ben Witter, the coach they shared for most of their lives. Witter was a golf legend whose long drives and trick shots earned him accolades in the highest reaches of the sport. Pat and Joe took instructions from him at the Lebanon Country Club where their father, also an ardent golfer, was a member.

In November of last year, Ben Witter was felled by cancer, a disease he’d been battling in one form or another since 1988. Witter’s passing was an especially poignant blow to the brothers because Joe was, and is, fighting his own cancer battle. Some 18 months ago he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, and he started chemo in October of last year.

Another thing the brothers learned from Ben Witter is that you don’t give in to cancer. If you get dealt the cancer card, you punch the dealer.

And that’s what brought Joe and Pat and a small army of volunteers to the Foxchase Golf Club in Denver on Tuesday, the longest day of the year. They followed in their teacher’s footsteps by teeing off at 5 a.m. for a golf marathon of at least 11 eighteen-hole rounds for the day, but they were hoping to get in 14 rounds before light faded from the sky at 9:10 p.m.

Witter had established a tradition of one-man golf marathons &tstr; his way of punching the dealer &tstr; and the Ward men were honoring his memory on Tuesday the best way they know how.

They were also honoring the memory of another Ephrata friend, Derrick Dull, who died in December, 2008, of acute mylogenous leukemia, a more aggressive form of the disease. Dull’s friends and family started a foundation in his honor, the Fight On Foundation, which raises money to support the families of cancer patients as their loved ones fight their battles

Joe and Pat’s marathon is a fundraiser for the Fight on Foundation. The effort began with a low-key email to the brothers’ wide circle of friends. They asked donors to pledge 25 cents or more per hole completed. Their initial goal was $2,000, but the latest word is that they’re going to exceed that by a bunch.

They plan to present a check for the final amount to the foundation’s officials at the annual Fight On banquet on Saturday night, June 25. More information about the marathon, and details for making donations, can be had by contacting Pat Ward at pmward7@gmail.com. The event can also be checked out at the marathon’s Facebook page at Ward Brothers Golf Marathon.

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