Golf Tournament Expected To Raise More Than $20,000 For Cancer

Willow Run Golf Course is hosting the third annual 'Birdies and Bogeys for Val' tournament

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. –  It’s an illness many can unfortunately relate to these days; cancer. And the Executive Director of the South Dakota Golf Association is no exception. Wade Merry lost someone very close to him two years ago. While that battle may be over, he’s not done fighting.

“We really don’t want anybody else to go through what we did,” says Merry.

In 2015, Wade Merry lost his wife, Val.

“She was sick for 16 to 17 months; she battled pancreatic cancer,” explains Merry.

From the start, the outlook was grim.

“It’s a ruthless disease, 50,000 some odd people a year are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” says Merry. “Once you’re diagnosed, there’s a three percent chance you’re going to be alive in a year.”

But Merry says his wife of 27 years gave it her all.

“That’s why she lived with the disease as long as she did, because she just wasn’t going to give up the fight,” says Merry.

It’s not the outcome Merry wanted for his family, or anyone else’s. So he’s doing something about it.

“She isn’t coming back; we know that,” explains Merry. “But this is kind of our way to help others in need.”

Merry has put together a golf tournament at Willow Run Golf Course, called Birdies and Bogeys for Val. But it’s no ordinary golf tournament. There will also be big-ticket items auctioned off.

“We have 4 tickets to a Tuesday practice round at the Masters, we’ve got golf packages for four Sutton Bay, the Dakota Dunes, the Minnehaha Country Club and Tatanka,” explains Merry.

All of that, plus autographed memorabilia by none other than PGA Tour pros Dustin Johnson and Ricky Fowler. This will be the third tournament held in Val’s honor. The first two raised more than $20,000. This year is expected to do the same, with the money going toward the Valeria Raye Merry Endowment at Avera McKennan. The endowment raises money for precision oncology, which researches treatment for different kinds of cancers, and helps with patient expenses.

“I know Val would be happy that we’re doing this,” says Merry.

The tournament tees off at noon on Friday. So far, there are 21 teams of 4 participating. Something unique: the majority of the autographed items weren’t donated, Merry actually got them signed himself.

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