By Anne Stanton
The family of a teen killed in an alcohol-related car accident has invited disc golf players of all skills to take part in a July 31 tournament at Hickory Hills in Traverse City.
The family of the late Joe Welburn is holding a Throw for Joe tournament to promote the message of responsible driving, to provide band scholarships, and to help maintain the Hickory Hills disk golf course.
Most of all they wanted to honor the memory of Joe Welburn, a 2008 Traverse City High School graduate, who played in the drum line of the Traverse City West Marching Band. He loved listening to Led Zeppelin, attending music festivals, skiing and playing disc golf at Hickory Hills, a wooded area located in the heart of Traverse City.
On April 24, Welburn, 20, was thrown from a car near the intersection of South and West Long Lake roads in Green Lake Township at about 3 a.m. Welburn, a passenger in the car, died from the injuries. His older brother, also a passenger, sustained minor injuries, while a 19-year-old passenger suffered serious injuries from the accident, according to a Traverse City Record-Eagle article.
Joe was working for Great Lakes Landscaping and Reds Barbeque and was getting his life going. He was really happy before he passed away, said his sister, Jessica Geetings, who helped her family organize the event from her home in Abilene, Texas. So we are telling kids to be responsible. The byline of our event is to be responsible for yourself and your friends.
Welburns family members organized The First Annual Throw for Joe Frisbee Golf Tournament on July 31 from all corners of the country to help remember Joe, who used to say that making other people happy made him happy, Geetings said.
This has been a family event that is helping a small bit with the pain of losing Joe. Joes death was preventable and we want people to be aware so this tragedy will not happen again, said the family in its press release.
The funeral was attended by about 600 people, including many of Welburns friends who stood up at the funeral, wearing bandanas, which Welburn often wore. They delivered a vow to be responsible for each other and not to let Welburns death be in vain or to ever cause another family the intense pain that the Welburns family has suffered, the release said.
Money raised will be used to start a yearly $500 scholarship for a Traverse City West Band member. The remaining proceeds will go toward maintaining Hickory Hills disc golf course.
The event, beginning at 9 a.m. with a shotgun start, will feature barbecued ribs from Reds Barbeque and raffle items, donated by a large number of sponsors. Registration is $20, which includes lunch and a t-shirt. Trophies wll be awarded for first through third place. Teams of three can sign up together or individuals will be placed on a team. Those who register by July 23 are guaranteed t-shirts; registration is also allowed on the day of the event.
If anyone is interested in playing or donating please call Rich at 231-642-0510 or Jessica at 325-338-3670 or go to the website http://sites.google.com/site/throwforjoe/