CORNING – Dozens of golfers lined up on Friday to watch as Nomlaki Paskenta Band chairman Dru Alejandre unveiled a wish granted to a seriously ill girl.
Rolling Hills Casino and the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians launched “Once Upon a Par,” the fourth annual charity golf tournament organized by the organization that raises funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation on Friday.
This year, an 8 year old girl named Lily got her wish to become a zookeeper. During the opening ceremony of the tournament, Lily received a bespoke zoo keeper uniform from Alejandre along with a paid visit to a zoo for her and her family to interact with the animals.
“Me and my grandma would love to see the lions and all the different big cats and reptiles,” Lily said when Alejandre asked which animals she would most like to work with.
Alejandre said the charities wish six children each year and raised a total of nearly $ 150,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the first three years of the event.
“It is important because it is part of the tribe’s values to give back to the community,” said Alejandre. “We really wanted to do it on a grand scale and found that partnering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation was the right choice. And above all we will take care of some children and put a smile on some of them. “
In the past, requests granted to children included renting a houseboat for a child to take out on the lake and allowing a child to work as a garbage collector for a day, Alejandre said.
“The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians is a huge supporter of the community,” said Alejandre. “We continue to support non-profit education, health and awareness-raising organizations that we are very proud of.”
Jon Thornton, vice president of philanthropy at the Make-A-Wish Foundation, said the critically ill children are usually referred to the organization.
“It’s just amazing,” said Thronton of the event. “At the end of the day you will have raised enough money to support six different families on their dream trip.”
Thornton said the charity relies on community events and fundraising to bring the wishes to life.
“We’re excited every time Rolling Hills and the tribe do this for us,” said Thornton. “The way this works has to be driven by the community and by all the people that come together.”
About 120 golfers flocked to The Links at Rolling Hills to check in and prepare for the tournament.
Participant Will Wegener said he was excited to be supporting the cause behind the tournament. This was his first competition at Once Upon a Par.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know it for the first time,” said Wegener. “So far they have looked after us very well.”
A press release from the tribe on Friday said this year’s event raised around $ 47,000.
Other children who received donations from the event include 9 year old Ryder, 8 year old Ariana, 16 year old Connor, 10 year old Sophia, and 5 year old Jasper.
“We are proud to partner with Make-A-Wish again to adopt and fulfill the wishes of six deserving children,” said Alejandre. “These brave children struggle every day to stay healthy and they really touched our hearts with their stories. We are pleased to be able to inform you that we fulfill your heart’s desires. “