Golf Tournament Puts Post-9/11 Wounded Warriors at the Fore-front
Bruce McKibbin had a front-row seat watching professional golfers develop into PGA Tour stars. Between 2012 and 2017, he and a team of community volunteers managed events for the Korn Ferry Tour, the PGA’s developmental tour (formally known as the Web.com Tour).
When Bruce retired from his job as a sales manager, he decided to use both his business and golf experience to help serve post-9/11 veterans.
He co-founded Friends of Wounded Warriors KC and established the “Support Our Wounded Veterans” golf tournament, benefitting Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).
Bruce had a deep-seated motivation for starting this fundraiser. And it’s one that he didn’t often share.
Bruce is a Vietnam-era combat veteran. He remembered coming back from Vietnam to a less-than-welcoming environment. Although Bruce’s resilience helped him succeed in life with little support, he remains committed to ensuring the next generation of veterans can have the support they deserve.
“After Vietnam, I was just happy to be back in the world with all my fingers and toes,” Bruce said. “I did not expect a warm welcome, but I remember being spit on at the airport as we arrived back home. Returning veterans deserve better. That’s what attracted me to Wounded Warrior Project: Our service members gave everything, and they deserve our help.”
From a One-Man Fundraiser to a Team of Veterans’ Supporters
“Being a combat veteran from Vietnam, I was tuned in to the needs of returning servicemen and women,” Bruce said. “I sent monthly donations to Wounded Warrior Project for a long time, when I was still working with the Web.com Tour event.”
Upon retiring, Bruce told himself, “I know how to run a golf tournament and I know I want to use my charitable energy to support WWP.” He searched for a Kansas City-based fundraiser and realized there was none. So, he created one in 2018.
Partnering with Chris Buescher, a PGA professional and general manager of Minor Park Golf Course in Kansas City, Bruce went out on a limb to organize the first fundraiser in 2018. Soon, other people saw his determination and joined in. “We had a group of dedicated individuals who shared our passion for veterans, and it just took off,” Bruce said.
Dedication to Veterans’ Well-Being
Held each August, Bruce’s golf tournament has raised more than $150,000 for WWP in the last five years. In 2022 alone, the event raised more than $52,000.
Due to the support the event has received thus far in Kansas City, Bruce and his team are in the process of adding more events with the goal of increasing donations and support for wounded servicemen and women.
The tournament gathers golfers for a weekend of play, including a pre-event on Friday with local veterans and opening remarks from a member of the WWP Warriors Speak team before the start of play on both Saturday and Sunday morning. U.S. Marine veteran Dan Miller, who works with WWP, shared his personal story with players at the start of the 2022 tournament.
“It’s uplifting for me to see so many people come together to support veterans – and they have a good time while helping,” Dan said.
Dan has spoken to the group three years in a row, sharing about 15 minutes of his life story.
“We have 130 golfers listening, and no one even breathes while Dan’s talking,” said Bruce. “Dan reminds us of why we’re all there and what veterans service organizations like Wounded Warrior Project can do for veterans.”
Moving the Needle for Military Appreciation
Bruce remarks on how attitudes toward military service have changed during his lifetime. “The gratitude for [military] service is better today than it was in my time, and I’m very happy about that,” Bruce said. “It’s incumbent on a society to take care of our veterans and this is my attempt to move in that direction.”
“Our combat veterans often don't get the treatment and help they need to come back to society, missing limbs or with PTSD or traumatic brain injury," Bruce said. “Now, thankfully, military service is seen as an honorable endeavor.”
For Bruce, helping fellow veterans is a privilege and a life-giving purpose. It’s icing on the cake when golf tournament participants enjoy the experience and want to come back.
“It’s gratifying when golfers say, ‘this is my favorite tournament of the year, and I’ll never miss it.’”
You can contribute to this golf fundraiser from anywhere in the U.S., or sign up to play August 12-13, 2023, by following this link.
Learn more about the programs and services WWP provides.
Contact: — Raquel Rivas, Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 904.426.9783
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.