After 25 years, the final Derek Dolenc Memorial Golf Tournament was held on Sept. 17, 2016 at Edgewood Golf Club in Auburn.
In 1992, Kent Dolenc organized the first Derek Dolenc Memorial Golf Tournament to honor his older brother who lost his battle to cancer at the young age of of 31 in November 1991.
Proceeds from the first tournament started a college fund for Derek's daughter who was 2 years old at the time of his death. A year later, Kent decided to expand the tournament and help honor his brother's interest in giving back to the community.
"I decided to start an endowment with Memorial Medical Center Foundation and have the funds help cancer patients in their time of despair. That decision was an easy one for me as I remembered Derek's spoken words about wishing he could help the community and give back in some way," Kent said. "I am very proud of the help that Derek's fund has provided to cancer patients receiving treatment at Memorial Medical Center; extremely proud."
Since 1993, nearly $255,000 has been donated to the Derek Dolenc Cancer Patient Assistance Found from tournament proceeds, tournament sponsors and donors. Thus far, nearly 320 patients have been assisted with utility bills, vehicle and house payments and transportation expenses.
"The plan was to start the fund, contribute on an annual basis, and hope at some point the fund could produce enough interest to help cancer patients in some way. Well, here we are at the 'some point.' After seeing the list of patients that the fund has assisted over the past several years and especially the last year, I am emotionally astonished and extremely happy," Kent said.
The tournament, which started as an invitation-only event for close friends and family, was opened to the public in 2009. As many as 44 teams and never less than 36 teams have participated each year since the tournament's inception.
"This tournament has become a big part of my life in many ways. I have heard on many occasions from players that they will miss the annual get-together. It has been special but it's time to close the chapter. Derek's fund will, hopefully, last forever," Kent said. "One of the biggest reasons for the success of the tournament is the annual generosity that came from the dedicated sponsors. I cannot say enough great things about our sponsors; they truly have my gratitude."
Even though the final Derek Dolenc Memorial Golf Tournament was held, donations to the Derek Dolenc Cancer Patient Assistance Fund will continue to be accepted through Memorial Medical Center Foundation.
"Derek's legacy was very important to me as he was taken from all of us so early in his life. The success of the tournament was of utmost importance in order to fulfill his legacy through cancer patient assistance," Kent said. "With the help of all involved, I believe we have succeeded in keeping his name alive through association with something this important."