The Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey Inc. held its 20th annual PIANJ Golf Classic, raising a record $40,000 for Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) from the sold out event. The tournament, co-sponsored by The Mercer Insurance Group, was held Sept. 15, 2003, at the Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, N.J.
In conjunction with other events the PIANJ has raised nearly $1.5 million to date. “For the past 20 years, PIANJ has seen the Golf Classic grow and evolve into an event that continues to surpass itself each year,” stated Steven Reichman, CIC, NIA Group, who is both PIANJ’s past president and the Golf Classic chairman. “Everyone’s level of commitment from the participants and golf pros to the sponsors has made this event the success that it is.”
In addition to its financial support, the PIANJ Golf Classic also is credited with introducing the sport of golf to Special Olympic athletes. The tournament served as a model program, both locally and nationally, eventually leading to golf’s inclusion as a Special Olympics sport in 1987. “After 20 years of support, it truly is inspiring to witness the continued efforts of PIANJ on behalf of our athletes,” commented Marc Edenzon, president of SONJ. “Because of the ongoing hard work and generous contributions of PIANJ members, SONJ now is able to conduct more than 140 area, sectional and chapter events in 23 sports year-round.”
Golf celebrity Scott Simpson was on site both as an aide and a challenge for the participants. Low gross awards were given to Bob Buchney of Aon Corp. and Claudia Dessingue of OneBeacon Insurance Group. Low net winners were Joe Skowronski of RCA Insurance Group and Pam Gorajek of Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co. Plaques also were awarded to the 11 individuals who “beat the pro” in a “closest-to-the-green” competition.