— When Eli Florence of Lake Fenton passed away from AML Leukemia on Oct. 14, 2007, the entire nation was captivated by the teenager, who courageously battled his disease and never lost his faith in God. Many people remember when the five teens on the Kings Court at Lake Fenton High School’s Homecoming Oct. 6, 2007 crowned Eli as their Homecoming King, and the event was seen around the nation when ESPN aired footage of the event.
Before he died, Eli asked his mother, Trina Florence-King, to do three things with the rest of her life. First, he asked her to keep sharing his story of hope, faith and perseverance with anyone who would listen. Secondly, he asked her to teach mothers and fathers how to read labs (laboratory reports and tests) to understand the disease their child has, and help them emotionally as best as she can. Finally, Eli asked his mother to raise money so the mother and father can take leave from their job(s) during their child’s treatment to be with them 24/7 “like you were with me mom, but not have it be so hard financially.”
Florence-King, who lives in the Grand Rapids area, founded The Eli Foundation, which helps families who have children diagnosed with AML Leukemia. The foundation’s goal is to raise $10,000 to sponsor a family with a child diagnosed with AML Leukemia, and the foundation now has a family in need. In order to fulfill Eli’s last request, the foundation announced the 1st Annual Eli Foundation Charity Golf Outing Sept. 18 at Southmoor Golf Course, G-4312 S. Dort Hwy. The foundation needs 250 golfers to accomplish the goal of having the first ever, double shot-gun start.
Approximately 100 golfers have registered so far, but “many have not paid yet,” said Florence-King. “We need people to confirm and commit.”
Cost is $60 per person, and includes catered meals, 18 holes of golf and a cart. For the a.m. shotgun start, golfers need to check-in at 7 a.m., with the tee time following at 8 a.m. For the p.m. shotgun start, check-in is noon, followed by a 1 p.m. tee time. A full meal will be served between the two shotgun starts. Golfers must register and submit the entry fee by Sept. 7. For those who do not want to golf, but still want to contribute and enjoy the event, Florence-King said there is a 4 p.m. meal, followed by a live auction at 5:30 p.m. “People are welcome to attend the auction separate from the outing,” she said. “There are over $7,800 worth of items up for the auction.”
Some of the items attendees will have a chance to bid on are a gift certificate for a one-year Genesys Athletic Club membership with locker and nameplate, donated by Florence-King; a signed, rear quarter panel off of the 2005 Winston Cup Points Winner’s Home Depot car, sent to Eli while he was at Mott Children’s Hospital before going to Minnesota for his initial transplant; a boat slip for the remaining season, plus a full season in 2011 from Skipper Bud’s Marina in Fenton; art work by local and national artists; a Detroit Tigers signed hologram picture, sent as a gift towards helping the foundation reach its goal of raising $10,000 to sponsor a family; and various other gift certificates for dining, spa services and other luxury items donated by local businesses.
Cost to attend the dinner, which is catered by Johnny’s Restaurant in Fenton, and live auction is $10 per person. Ron Polk, a professional auctioneer out of Montrose, will be doing the honors at the auction. Individuals must submit their reservations by Sept. 10. Before the auction, Florence- King said a drawing will take place where a golf course will be selected to hold next year’s charity golf outing.
“It’s been two-and-a-half months of PR, but it’s my passion,” said Florence-King of organizing the charity golf outing. “God has been multiplying my minutes. I wouldn’t be here without God. I wanted to have the golf outing here, at home, for the people whose lives were touched by Eli.’”
All proceeds from the charity golf outing and auction will go into the 501(c)3 Eli Foundation checking account at Chase Bank.
“If the full grant is funded ($10,000), a notification will go out to all facilities in the United States making them aware so that they can share this wonderful news with the families who have children diagnosed with AML LEUKEMIA so they can go to www. theelifoundation.com and apply,” said Florence-King. “This will begin the screening process and interviews and meetings with the applicants hospital social worker and/or special needs team, etc. Once an applicant is chosen, I will go meet the family and not only share the news of their acceptance in the financial grant program The Eli Foundation has to offer, but will also offer the gift of advocacy to the family for a period of time beginning with one week on site to be available to the family for educational, caregiving exchange time and emotional support.” For more on the golf outing, donations or tickets, visit www.theelifoundation.com, then click on “Links” and download the registration form. Individuals also can call Florence-King at 616-734-9100 for details or more information.