Sixth Annual Golf Tournament Sept. 17 in Edwardsville to Help Two Area Charities

EAST ALTON, Ill., Aug. 26, 2010 – Have you ever bought a model Arch from the national monument’s gift shop? If you have, then you’ve supported disabled adults who are employed by the non-profit organization New Opportunities.

New Opportunities, based in Granite City, Ill., and Madison County Challenger Baseball are the two charities selected to benefit from this year’s Simmons Employee Foundation’s 6th Annual Golf Tournament at Sunset Hills Country Club in Edwardsville. The tournament, organized in a 4-person scramble format, takes place Friday, Sept. 17. Tee times are 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

John Barnerd, SEF board member and Simmons law firm partner, said the foundation selected the two charities because they both work to improve the quality of life for people diagnosed with disabilities.

“The Simmons foundation members felt like New Opportunities and Madison County Challenger Baseball are providing unique services for those with special needs, and we wanted them to know that we support them,” he said.

New Opportunities teaches adults with disabilities the life and vocational skills needed to become self-sufficient. Participants in the program earn a paycheck while learning the skills necessary to function within a community setting, said New Opportunities Administrator Sharon Varady.

“After they graduate high school, if they just sit at home, they regress really fast,” she said. “The parents rely on our daily activities to keep their son or daughter active.”

She is thankful for SEF’s support because the state is about eight months behind in funding the program. Any money raised will go toward the cost of a 12-passenger van, she said.

“We rely heavily on ACT (Agency for Community Transit), but a lot of times they’ll get booked up,” she said. “A new van would give us the flexibility and freedom to accommodate more people.”

The golf tournament will also benefit Madison County Challenger Baseball, a non-profit baseball league for children ages 5 to 18 who have been diagnosed with developmental disabilities.

“Challenger Baseball has three basic rules – every player bats, every player plays the field and every player wins,” said Mary Ann Byrd, who started Madison County’s chapter of Challenger Baseball three years ago.

When it came time to select the charities for this year’s SEF golf tournament, Shara Fisher, an employee of Simmons Hanly Conroy, suggested Madison County Challenger Baseball because her 13-year-old son Logan volunteers as a buddy through his baseball team, the Wood River Sun Devils.

The league is run on a volunteer basis. Each volunteer, ages 12 and older, is paired with a player through a buddy system.

“Each boy from the team is paired up with a buddy,” Fisher explained. “They stay with that person in the field, helping them get the ball. Some players are in wheel chairs, so if the ball is hit to them, our kids will pick it up and put it in their laps so they can throw it.”

Byrd said it costs about $7,000 a year to manage the league’s six teams. Any funds raised would go toward buying uniforms, trophies and equipment for growing children. In addition, league organizers also purchase specialized equipment like beeping baseballs for visually impaired children.

“Our goal is to give everyone the opportunity to play baseball,” Byrd said. “We never want to exclude anyone.”

One hundred percent of the proceeds raised during the Sixth Annual SEF Golf Tournament will benefit New Opportunities and Madison County Challenger Baseball. “We hope everyone will come out, play a round and support these two, very-well deserving charities,” Barnerd said.

To play in the tournament, it costs $100 per player or $400 per foursome. Entry fees include green fees, cart rental, lunch or dinner, soda or beer on the course and a complimentary gift.

Cash prizes will be awarded to first and second place teams in each flight. Teams paid by Sept. 10 will be entered in a drawing to win four St. Louis Cardinals baseball tickets.

For more information or to register contact Lori Smith at 618.259.6102 or Yvette Scott at 618.259.6517.

About Simmons Employee Foundation

In late 2004, the employees of Simmons Hanly Conroy came together to create a single, streamlined way for them to give back to the communities they are so proud to call home. As a result of their creativity and heartfelt commitment, the Simmons Employee Foundation (SEF), has provided nearly $1 million of financial support and countless volunteer hours to local charitable organizations.

About the Firm

The Simmons Hanly Conroy, headquartered in East Alton, Ill., is one of the country’s leading asbestos and mesothelioma litigation firms. With offices in Illinois, Missouri, Georgia and California, the firm has represented over 2,000 patients and families affected by mesothelioma in nearly every state. The Simmons Hanly Conroy has pledged over $15 million to cancer research and proudly partners with top mesothelioma medical experts throughout the country in order to find a cure. For more information about Simmons Hanly Conroy, visit