Saving Grace Event keeps Godfrey family on the front lines | LPGA

by | Oct 7, 2021 | LPGA

MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY | Nobody thought it would be that big. On the Monday night before the start of the Cognizant Founders Cup, when there were already many players in New Jersey, Christina Thompson, founder and CEO of Golf4Her, an online store for women, sponsored a reception and fundraiser for Jane Park, Pete Godfrey and their daughter Grace. As many in the golfing world know, Grace, who is now a year old, had severe seizures in early July that resulted in brain damage. Doctors have mixed diagnoses as the cause, but everyone agrees that Grace will always face challenges. Since then, Jane, a 15 year old LPGA Tour veteran, has been a full-time caregiver. She has evolved from perfecting wedge shots and creating 10 foot punches for navigating gastrointestinal nutrition and medication plans while Pete is back to work as a caddy for Ariya Jutanugarn.

“This is a situation you never want,” said Thompson. “If you raise funds, it’s because something really bad happened. That has never been more true than in this case. We love Jane and Peter and want to do everything in our power to support them. Money doesn’t change how tragic and terrible this situation is. But that’s what we can do. And it shows Jane and Peter that there are people out here who take care of them. “

The event, put together in just over a month, was held in 1776 by David Burke, a high-end Morristown restaurant. It is connected to an indoor top golf simulator facility. The restaurant did not officially open. The grand opening is on October 13th. But Burke, who has 13 restaurants around the world and an international reputation as one of America’s finest chefs, showed up and ran the kitchen for the night.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Thompson. “It happened so quickly and there were so many moving parts, you just never know how it will turn out.”

It turned out to be overwhelming. More than 200 people packed 1776 and the Topgolf Swing Suite, including 20 LPGA tour professionals. Mike Whan, the new CEO of USGA, came with his wife, Meg. Jerry Foltz and Karen Stupples from the Golf Channel were also there. The Mayor of Morristown was there with caddies, friends, and local people who just wanted to help. More wanted to come, but the facility couldn’t hold it up.

“I thought there would be about 15 people drinking beer,” said Godfrey, fighting back tears at the overwhelming support. “It’s amazing to see that.”

His wife didn’t try to suppress her feelings. When Godfrey Park did Facetime and showed her the room, she collapsed in sobs.

“(Christina) has great connections in this area,” said Marina Alex, who like Park is a Golf4Her ambassador. “The venue we visited was fantastic. (Thompson) organized all the tickets. On my part, it was about getting as much of the golf community involved as possible. Get players to help and just donate various items that would help raise money.

“I think in five weeks we did a pretty good job because we didn’t really know what we were doing. But, by and large, it’s all about helping them. I think everyone had a great time. It was a great success. I don’t think it will be the last time we do something like this. After talking to Christina one more time, it sounds like we’re trying to make this an annual thing. If we can do something for them once a year, that would be great. “

In addition to tickets and a silent auction, the players took part in a “Hit the Green” competition in the simulator bays, which were full of donors. The grand total will be just over $ 60,000 raised in one night. And while that won’t nearly cover the cost of Grace’s long-term care, the golf community has strengthened yet again.

“It’s really heartbreaking to see what’s going on,” said Alex. “Talking to (Jane) on Monday alone was super tough. It was really hard. I mean, Jane plays and Pete is a caddy and everyone out here knows her. You are such a huge face on our tour. We will do everything we can to help you. It was really nice to see how well it was received and how much everyone liked it. People just came and wanted to buy tickets at the door. It was a little crazy. But it was a great thing. It was really.”

The focus is on the love and support that the golf community brings to all of their players and their families. As Pete Godfrey’s father, who was also there on Monday night, said, “Americans are the most generous people in the world. I can’t tell you how much that means to our family. To all.”

“(What happened to Grace) is still very raw,” said Alex. “It’s hard. I don’t know when I’ll see Jane again out here. That’s the hardest thing to accept. It’s just completely different. It’s a challenge.”