Pet therapy is one of many program supported by the event that raises over $1 million in one day
The Feldman Automotive Children’s Miracle Celebrity Invitational is set to tee off Aug. 28 at the Detroit Golf Club.
The golf outing that pairs a celebrity with every foursome and raises more than $1 million in one day truly benefits the Children’s Miracle Network at Beaumont Children’s and the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation.
Just ask Kevin and Stephanie Barringer.
“We’ve all clicked on that $1 button or donated money to a charity but we never understand what that really means until we find ourselves in a situation where we benefit,” said Kevin, while watching his son visit with the pet therapy team at Beaumont Children’s.
A portion of the proceeds from the celebrity golf tournament benefit the pet therapy program offered through Child Life services at Corewell Health, formerly Beaumont Hospital.
“I don’t know that he would have made it through everything as well had it not been for the pet therapy dogs,” Stephanie said, of her 13-year-old son Connor.
Three years ago, after he fractured his collarbone in a soccer scrimmage, a more serious injury was discovered; a fractured cl and c2 vertebrae requiring immediate surgery.
“They put him in a halo brace. So he had to have holes drilled in his head,” Stephanie said, to keep his head and neck stationary while his spinal injuries healed. The device is scary enough for parents to see but imagine a young boy waking up to find this device on his head?
But when Connor woke up he was greeted by a big dog.
“It was a Great Dane. Nashville I believe,” said Kevin. “He put his face right next to Connor and you could see a little smile on his face.”
“There were other dogs too. Some would get up on the bed with him. He had to lie flat on his back so they would do this in order for him to see them. It was wonderful,” Stephanie said. “It gave him a moment to focus on something else.”
“They were a comfort,” said the 2023 Children’s Miracle Network Ambassador for Beaumont Children’s. “I knew I was safe when they were around.
“They made me feel normal,” he added, although admitting after Nashville’s visit he was left with a handful of slobber. “It was pretty cool they were around.”
And it wasn’t just Connor who appreciated the dog’s unconditional love and affection. They were also a distraction for Connor’s little sister Kennedy, 10, who was experiencing her own level of pain, seeing her brother hurt and the family’s life turned upside down.
“She loves them all,” Stephanie said, while watching Kennedy sitting on the floor with one of three dogs attending a media event at Beaumont Children’s in Royal Oak to raise awareness about how the fundraiser helps children.
The pet therapy program is one item on a long list of important programs and services supported by the fundraiser. It also helps to support equipment purchases, critical treatments and medical services for pediatric patients at all nine hospitals in the Children’s Miracle Network.
“Oh my gosh this event is so important to us,” said Kathleen Grobbel, supervisor for Child Life Services. “We rely on philanthropy dollars to run our department. So, for someone to put in such an effort to help us – is just amazing.”
However, this is not a new event.
The golf outing for the Children’s Miracle Network has been around for a while but it was not until CMN joined with Jay Feldman and Mark Wahlberg that the event really took off.
“It’s totally sold out — and as of today we’ve raised $950,000 and it hasn’t even started,” said Charlotte Alex, director of CMN, attributing a great deal of its success to Feldman and Wahlberg.
“Mark and I are business partners,” said Jay Feldman, who is the CEO for Feldman Automotive Group.
So, he’s often in the Detroit area for business but also for film work. During one of his trips during the pandemic, he visited children in the hospital and shortly after that he and Feldman decided to donate 1,300 tablets to the Children’s Miracle Network, so kids could not only talk to their parents but to play games and other activities to pass the time away.
Remembering what that meant at that time brought tears to Grobbel’s eyes.
“Unfortunately some of them were used to say their good-byes,’” Feldman said.
Once they saw the impact their gesture had on the children and the hospital Feldman and Walhberg — who are no strangers to successful partnerships including four car and RV/Airstream dealerships — offered to support the golf outing and have been driving up donations ever since.
“It’s just a great event,” Feldman said. “We get a mix of everyone.”
Business owners and their family members or employees, golfing enthusiasts, physicians, vendors, it’s a variety of people who support the event for a variety of reasons.
“I think when you have a good cause people who have been successful just want to give back,” said Feldman, who has been one of those people since starting his business more than 30 years ago.
“I definitely have respect for them and what they do,” said the Children’s Miracle Network Ambassador.
The Feldman Automotive Children’s Miracle Celebrity Invitational will be held at the Detroit Golf Club on Aug. 28. For sponsorship opportunities, email Charlotte Alex, director of Children’s Miracle Network at Beaumont Children’s: Charlotte.Alex@@corewellhealth.org
For more information visit beaumont.org/giving/foundation-events/childrens-miracle-celebrity-invitational