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South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)

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Golf tourney raises 47K for STX VA Fisher House

A man is hugging another man outside of a van upon his arrival

Soldier Alec Alcoser (with hat), greets Erik Zielinski outside the Sonterra Golf Course. Alcoser, and his K9, Alex were being honored at the tournament.

By Steve Goetsch
Sunday, October 21, 2018

On October 8, 180 golfers ignored the ominous clouds and predictions of heavy rain and hit the links at two Sonterra Club golf courses located in San Antonio, Texas. The ninth iteration of the United Rentals South Texas VA Courage Classic had some great activities lined up, including two special guests. Wounded Warriors, soldier Alec Alcoser, an Army Dog Handler, and his fellow soldier, Alex. Both he and Alex are Purple Heart recipients. Alec received multiple broken bones from IED shrapnel, while Alex, his eight-year -old German Shepard, lost a leg to that same suicide bomber.

They are both walking testaments to the benefit and importance of the Fisher House mission. Alec is receiving his rehabilitation at the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital. Because some of his family is from Houston, the South Texas VA Fisher House welcomes Alec’s family every weekend, so they can help him with his recovery.  

Alec spoke to the large crowd about how much of a blessing the Fisher House has been during his hospitalization. Flanked by his family, he told the audience that it makes it possible for his mom to visit him every weekend. The financial burden that is lifted off the family, enables them to spend quality time together.

“My family and I are truly grateful for the Fisher House and everyone who donates to support them,” Alcoser said to the packed room.

A large dining room with people in line for a barbecue buffet

As the golfers returned from the links, they were treated to a wonderful lunch, and awards ceremony where several team and special awards were presented. Over 180 golfer took part in the tournament which raised over $47,000.

A majority of that support came from two local platinum sponsors, TMI Episcopal School and United Rentals (UR). Both are very entwined with the Fisher House community, frequently doing service projects or volunteering supplies and volunteer hours. TMI recently completed a landscaping project on the grounds of the Fisher House. Their students choosing Fisher House as a recipient.

United Rentals once again brought an Army of volunteers to the tournament, doing everything from supporting golfers on the links, to tournament check-ins, to monitoring the competitive bidding process for the blind auction. UR has built a legacy of supporting Fisher House for the past four years.

With help from Voluntary Service, who took donations from beer signs to Spurs tickets and made several prize baskets, the silent auction was a rousing success. All told, the tournament raised over $47,000, the highest total since its inception.

That brought a grin to Erik Zielinski, the South Texas VA Fisher House Manager. “We are grateful for all of our community partners, volunteers and those that donate to support us,” Zielinski said. “It is through their support that we are able to provide a ‘home away from home,’ for our military families and heroes.”

This is the spirit of the Fisher House Foundation. 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward funding Fisher House programs.

Four golfers are on a putting green, linig up there shots.

One of the many teams that participated in the 9th Annual United Rentals Courage Classic thankfully didn't have to compete with the weather in addition to the challenging Sonterra courses.

The afternoon wasn’t just about fundraising, there were plenty of golf swings to perfect. Golfers were invited to test those swings, and their luck, to win a brand-new Jeep. Unfortunately, despite a few hundred attempts, the title remained in the dealer’s name.

Whether novice or not, the tournament brought all types of golfers out. One of those golfers, Agapito Lambert, uses the tournament as a teaching moment. “Each year I try to pick new team members that may not be familiar with the Fisher House so they can not only enjoy the tournament, but get a better understanding of what the Fisher House is all about,” Lambert said.

Lambert said despite the course being challenging, he always has fun there, but for him, seeing Alec and Alex was a great experience.

“As a 26-year Air Force medic, I have seen many airmen wounded in combat,” Lambert said. Participating in events like this tournament is a great way to not only have fun with colleagues and friends, but to give back to wounded warriors and raise awareness to those that may not be in the know about the services offered by the Fisher House Foundation.”

At South Texas, those services are about to expand, as the VA location prepares to build its second house in the near future.

Check out a slideshow from the tournament

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