Columbia resident Gary Walsh is returning to Orangeburg with his third annual charity golf tournament designed to help hearing-impaired children across the state and their families.
Walsh knows what many are going through because two of his grandsons were born deaf. They are his inspiration for starting the event.
The Orangeburg County native is the founder of The Joyful Noise Foundation, which raises funds to provide financial support for hearing-impaired children in South Carolina in acquiring hearing implants and ancillary services.
The third annual Joyful Noise Golf Charity Tournament will be held at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Orangeburg Country Club.
“We have to have the donations and the funds to help these kids. That’s the main reason I’m doing this," Walsh said. "I’m very appreciative of the sponsors in and around Orangeburg for their donations, also the golfers who play in the tournament. It wouldn’t be possible if they didn’t play."
Walsh’s grandsons, Trip, 16, and Preston, 12, were both born with a genetic defect that resulted in profound deafness. Both boys have had cochlear implants their whole lives to help them hear.
While their parents were fortunate to have medical insurance that covered most of the expenses associated with the cochlear implant surgeries, Walsh said he realizes that many families do not.
“There’s other people that are not as fortunate as they are. We’ve helped two kids so far, which is great. The word is kind of getting out that we have embarked on this mission,” he said, noting that his foundation has assisted Theodore Ritch of Lexington and Emma Kate Shirah of Sumter.
The foundation raises funds to assist with implant operations, hearing aids, speech therapy, audiology sessions and ancillary equipment.
The third annual golf tournament will feature a hole-in-one car giveaway, sponsored by Jimmy Jones Toyota of Orangeburg.
“The biggest thing we’ll have is a $10,000 putting contest. Somebody will have a chance to win $10,000 if they drop a put. We’ll have prizes during the day for longest drive, closest to the hole,” Walsh said.
Not only are golfers needed to play in the tournament, but the foundation is also seeking businesses, organizations and individuals to sponsor the holes.
The tournament is something he plans to continue in the future, Walsh said.