Fatal crash inspires charity golf tournament

Published 4:28 pm Saturday, October 7, 2023

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Butler County Sheriff Danny Bond recalls the tragic events of June 19, 2021 every time he passes mile marker 138 on Interstate 65, where nine children and one adult from the Tallapoosa County Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranch died in a multi vehicle crash.

Inspired by those memories, Bond and others who responded to the scene that day have partnered to host a charity golf tournament to benefit the ranch and honor those lost in the fatal crash.

“The [tournament] came about because of the accident where the children from the ranch died,” Bond said. “Ever since that day, the Sheriff’s Offices and the city have tried to come together to put on a golf tournament to raise money to support the ranch.”

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Bond’s office, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, and the Greenville Police Department, all responded to the crash that fateful day. Now the agencies, with assistance from the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce, are partnering for the tournament slated for Oct. 11 at Cambrian Ridge in Greenville. Lunch starts at 11:30, with tee time set for 1 p.m.

Lowndes County Sheriff Chris West said the event is an opportunity for the agencies to partner to help children..

“This is a chance to raise some money for the boys and girls,” West said. “We are really excited to help the organization that’s part of the Alabama Sheriffs Association.”

Tracy Salter, Chamber director, said the event is aimed at bringing awareness to the youth ranch and letting community members know how ranch efforts help youths in need.

“The Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranch does so much for youth across the entire state,” Salter said. “They are available to serve the youth of our community. Our first responders partner so well, we thought this would be a good way to kick off an opportunity to build awareness for the youth ranch and let folks know what it is they actually do to help our youth.”

According to CEO, Michael Smith, Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches is a non-profit, Christian organization that provides safe, loving homes for at-risk children throughout Alabama. Starting in 1966 with one boys ranch, the organization has four locations – Baldwin, Colbert, St. Clair, and Tallapoosa counties – where children find a structured, loving Christian home environment, attend local churches and schools, and are taught the value of having a good work ethic.

The ranches operate almost entirely through donated funds, a fact which resonates with Bond and other responders who collaborated to help at the crash and are now partnering to support the ranch’s efforts to help Alabama children.

“It was a horrific accident,” Bond reflected. “Every time I drive out, I can visualize the wreck. And so, its all about the kids. It’s not about us. It’s about making sure the kids have what they need to grow and become productive citizens.”

Organizers are working to gain tournament sponsorships and recruit players for tournament teams. Amateur players are welcome, laughed West, who said he is not a golf player but plans to give it a try to help the children.

Salter said Greenville residents can contact the Chamber to register at (334) 382-3251.

Individuals or organizations looking to register or seeking more information about the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches can also contact Smith at (334) 850-0000 or Pat Downing at (334) 462-0432.