By Craig Dresang, CEO, Yolo Hospice
Originally published in The Davis Enterprise
Every culture has a unique set of values, traditions, and norms. But the distinct energy that exuded from last weekend’s annual Mexican Open Golf Tournament was markedly special. The event leverages the game of golf, entertainment, education, and outreach to honor and preserve Mexican heritage as well as the power of community.
If the event’s founder, Tony Cueva, were here today he would be amply proud to see how his family and friends have shaped what was a kernel of an idea into a yearly celebration of life and a fundraiser that helps make our communities stronger and more caring.
Over the years, the golf tournament and fiesta have raised $75,000 for Yolo Hospice patients who have no health coverage or ability to pay for care. But Yolo Hospice is just one of a handful of beneficiaries of the Mexican Open. Proceeds have also been directed to Families Helping Families, the Wounded Warriors Project, and the Mexican Open Scholarship program which grants college scholarships to local high school seniors in Yolo and Solano Counties.
More than 150 golfers teed off this year at Paradise Valley Golf Course in Fairfield. For a hole-in-one, golfers had a chance to win $15,000 cash or a new Buick Enclave donated by Vacaville GMC. The outing was followed with a Fiesta at the Ulatis Cultural Center in Vacaville where more than 400 party-goers enjoyed authentic Mexican food and dance, raffle prizes, and live music.
Next year will be the event’s 15th anniversary, a clear indication that Tony’s spirit of community service and generosity is being passed on from generation to generation. Since Tony’s death in 2014, his wife, sons and nine siblings have continued the tradition of community engagement and finding ways to make a difference in the lives of others.
Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Tony worked at Anheuser Busch for more than 25 years until his retirement. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was a Vietnam Veteran who received multiple awards and medals including the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” for valor. In 2010, he received the Living Legacy Award for philanthropic innovation from the Solano County Board of Supervisors. At the time, he was recognized for his generosity, creativity, and ability to engage others in service and community. A year later he received the Community Quarterback Award from the San Francisco 49ers Foundation in partnership with NFL Charities.
In keeping with Tony’s sense of service to country, Yolo Hospice will apply this year’s proceeds toward its We Honor Veterans Program . . . the only four-star veterans program in Yolo County.
We Honor Veterans is a collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Yolo Hospice, and other regional organizations. The purpose of the program is to establish an enduring network of hospice and VA professionals in order to improve Veterans’ access to hospice and palliative care. It helps ensure that every veteran is able to receive hospice care at the time and place of need. Through the program Yolo Hospice staff are specially trained to care for veterans who may be suffering from war-related post-traumatic-stress syndrome. Staff are also specially equipped to help veterans, and their families, access a host of benefits and resources that they may be entitled to receive.