The Trail Smoke Eaters have made a lot of tough decisions over the past season, none more so than having to cancel their annual ALS Alumni Dinner and Golf Tournament fundraiser.
“I could only get commitments from five corporate sponsors,” said Smoke Eaters’ president Tom Gawryletz. “Traditionally we have 17 or 18 so it just wasn’t feasible.”
This year would have marked the eighth anniversary of the event that has seen the likes of Bobby Schmautz, Harold Snepts, Tom McVie, Bobby Kromm, Cesare Maniago, Brian Burke, Tom Renney, Danny Gare, Ray Ferraro and last year’s guests Steve and Jeff Tambellini attend and entertain residents and guests at the Italian dinner and auction.
The tournament is scheduled annually for the second weekend in July and has proven a successful fundraiser for the team in past years. Together with other fund raising initiatives, it helped the Smokies raise close to $40,000 last season.
“It’s a $12,000 to $15,000 fundraiser for us. We’ll have to put our heads together to come up with something else,” Gawryletz added.
Thoughts of moving to a one-day event was broached at the last meeting, and would mean eliminating the popular Italian dinner and auction, but it is an option the team will look at, possibly for September, said Gawryletz.
“It might be good for us to get away from the July weekend, there is so much going on this next month. When you’re a small business and you’ve got five guys pounding on your door for the same two weeks you have to say no to somebody, which happened to us and, which I understand.”
The event has also enabled the team to donate tens of thousands of dollars to the ALS Foundation that seeks a cure for amytrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.