BT Column 5/28: Let’s Try Giving Leaders a Chance To Lead

Here’s a link to my May 28, 2014 column for Bluffton Today.

Here’s the text

Time to try something different: Give our leaders a chance to lead

OVER MEDIUM 

Tim Wood

Do you trust your elected officials?

It’s a question I have been asking Bluffton friends a lot this week.

Actually, it’s a topic that has been building a lot of steam over the past few months, ever since the revelation of the Bluffton Public Development Corporation came to light.

The county and the town working together on a project that could be a game changer for the economic future of Bluffton? This sounds like a good thing, right?

There’s a lot of scary moving parts in the middle of this 34-acre, $4 million purchase of land at Buckwalter Place.

But at the end of the day, the people that we collectively elected to represent our best interests are telling us this is the best way to go. Shouldn’t that be enough?

I have had this same conversation with 10 friends now. And a pattern has developed at this point in the conversation.

First, the admission.

“I didn’t vote in the last three Town Council elections so I don’t have to trust them.”

“I didn’t like the candidates, so I just chose not to vote.”

“I had 15 things to do on Election Day, and voting didn’t even make the top 15.”

As hard as I try not to get up on my high horse, the truth is, you’re not entitled to complain about leadership when you give up the very basic right to vote.

But nonetheless, I bite my lip and talk about the benefits that the deal could bring to the area.

Next comes the deflection.

“Since when did you become a PR rep for the town?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be the watchdog media?”

“You’re the one that gets paid to ask the questions.”

It’s a bizarre point we are at as a society. No one trusts anything about anyone. Our first instinct is negativity and finger pointing. The result is enough rhetoric to kill innovation.

The media and our elected officials have done plenty to earn the distrust and pessimism and yes, the apathy. I’m not real excited to even be called “media” these days, I get it.

And in this case, the BPDC hasn’t exactly given us a lot to work with. It would be much easier to accept what they’re saying at face value if we knew the business they’re negotiating with to sell 8 to 10 of those acres of land that is supposedly going to lead to a lot of positive change for the area.

But that isn’t how high-powered business negotiations work. And maybe that’s the hard part for us to accept here. These are big-time negotiations that could have long-lasting implications for all of us. So we all think we deserve to know everything at all steps of the process.

Sorry, these are the people that earned a seat at the table. They have stepped up when so many of us didn’t and are playing an active part in shaping the future of the town and the region.

As for me asking questions, here’s the funny thing. I am asking a lot of questions and I’m liking the answers I’m hearing.

I’m asking as a citizen of the town, someone who has been here a while and who plans on being here to see the results of the work this group is doing.

Here, I see three different entities coming together in an effort to take control of the next phase of development instead of having it dictated to them by outsiders who write the biggest checks.

It’s unprecedented in this era of government and politics to see this, and for the town, county and now the school board to be financial bedfellows, it’s a very unique arrangement to start with.

They have brought in Doug Tardio, the COO of the biggest Beaufort County employment success story in generations, to help lead the BDPC. Add in Santee Cooper, who would be loaning some of the money, and there’s a lot of corporate involvement that scares us.

But again, in this case, I’m inclined to believe that it should encourage us rather than throw up red flags.

By buying the land, the group can pick and choose how that land gets developed, make sure that it fits the makeup of the town and who gets to be involved in the development.

BPDC chairman Roberts Vaux told BT last week that the proposed company they are negotiating fits all those criteria, including a developer with local roots.

Part of the fear here is that we’re giving this collective group a lot of leeway that could lead to a lot of corruption — with councilmen and board members lining their pockets with payoffs.

And that could happen, for sure. That’s why we all need to keep asking questions and stay active as this process plays out.

But on the surface, I’m intrigued and encouraged by the initial details I’m hearing. It feels like the folks we elected to watch out for our best interests are attempting to do just that.

I’ve seen a lot of isolated decision making lead to economic failures in these parts that can’t all be blamed on the recession.

At least in this instance, we have a lot of information sharing and informed decision making going on among different government agencies.

If that makes me a guy who is drinking the Kool-Aid, so be it. Maybe I’m a naïve idealist. I’m just so tired of politics and negativity grinding real change to a halt. It’s foreign yet refreshing to see a collective of politicians and proven business leaders making decisions and being accountable for the greater good.

That’s something worth getting excited about, dare I say optimistic about.

I don’t need to file a Freedom of Information Act request to know that. I’m going to try giving leaders a bit of freedom to lead, all the while getting informed before I feel entitled to criticize.

For once, maybe we can try to trust our officials and hold them accountable at the same time.

Tim Wood is a writer living in Bluffton. Email him with comments or story ideas at timmaywood@gmail.com.

BT Column 5/21: Adventures in Disconnection, A Cautionary Tale?

Here’s a link to my May 21, 2014 column in Bluffton Today.

Adventures in disconnection: A tale of love lost and cords cut

OVER MEDIUM

Tim Wood

It’s something I would have never imagined myself doing. Those who know me know it’s practically inconceivable.

Outside of my wife, my father, my sisters and my kids, there is no relationship that I have put more time into and have valued more than my DirecTV receiver.

Like any relationship, there have been ups and downs. Over the 15 years we’ve been together, it has brought me great joy (“The Sopranos”) and deep sorrow (the David Tyree Super Bowl catch against the Patriots).

Sure, I’ve threatened to break up. When it gave more attention and Sunday Ticket price breaks to the shiny new customers, I was furious and there were many phone fights. But in the end, three free months of Showtime or a free preview of MLB Extra Innings always healed the wounds.

And yes, we actually went through a trial separation. It was a brief dalliance with Dish, something that should have never happened. But DirecTV forgave me.

I’ve flirted with others. I mean, I’m committed but I’m not dead. My friends showed me their Roku, they talked about how they cut the cord and how different their lives were.

They looked happy. I was intrigued but too frightened of change.

Then it happened. A few weeks back, Nielsen released a study that said Americans get an average of 189 channels from their provider and watch only 17 of them regularly.

So I counted our family’s regular rotation. For as much as I love TV, we could only really count 14 channels.

That’s when the real doubt crept in. I remember a time when it was a simple relationship. We let too many things get in the middle — extra remotes, HD receivers, DVRs.

We can’t even communicate any more. I used to be able to read all your signals. Now, that picture goes dead at the mere threat of thunder. You know the hell you put me through when I can’t watch “Love It Or List It” and yet, it seemed like you blacked it out on purpose near the end.

Our love affair cost me too much. So I made the call.

We bought a couple Apple TVs ($99 each) to move around the house. We already subscribed to Netflix and added Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime to fill in the blanks. We’ve become what the satellite and cable industry fear the most — an informed and empowered consumer who only pays for what we really watch.

I bought an MLB.TV subscription so I can still watch my baseball live through Apple TV, my XBox or my iDevices.

All the networks we watch have their own apps with all the latest episodes and Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have all the past seasons in case we want to do some binge watching.

Are there moments of weakness? For sure. We can’t record 28 episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” to watch whenever we want. We have to sit through 4 or 5 commercials to watch the latest “NCIS”. Oh, the horror.

For the most part, it has been a rude awakening. I really don’t miss live TV as much as I thought I would.

The kids are outside more. I’m more inclined to read, write or exercise. Well, at least read and write. I wish I had some kind of miracle weight loss story to go with this tale, but maybe that will come in time.

We had already upgraded our Hargray Internet connection because of work needs — you’ll need one of the upper-tier packages if it’s something you’d consider. And Hargray has a $20-per-month local channels package if we find we can’t live without hearing about all the crime and murder in Savannah.

In the end, the online streaming is costing us about 15 percent of what we were paying with satellite.

Yes, that’s right, DirecTV. You’re just coaxial cable to me now.

We’re only two weeks into this. I know there will be tests of my courage come football season.

But I gain strength in knowing we’re not alone. There are a growing lot of us out there, the cord cutters. What once was a hippie notion is gaining momentum. Financial responsibility is winning out over complacency.

Who knows? The networks might soon figure out we’re winning and shut down all their apps. We’ll deal with that when it happens.

Before you go calling me a maverick, I should come clean.

I only suspended my DirecTV account for six months. We still have the receivers. If this experiment blows up, we’ll be reunited in minutes.

So, I’m a cord frayer. Cut me some slack. I’ve never been good with breakups.

Tim Wood is a writer living in Bluffton. Email him with comments or story ideas at timmaywood@gmail.com.

Live Blogging: Advice That Stands the Test of Time

Another piece I did for the Bleacher Report blog concerned live blogging. In rereading this, I have found that once again, like “The Wonder Years,” this text stands the test of time. 

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A live blog is a running commentary on an event in motion. It is one of the handful of writing formats that Bleacher Report uses to create interaction with our readers.

If print media answers the question, “What happened?”, then live blogging, if used correctly, answers, “What’s happening?” But too often, live blogging sporting events is abused and misused.

BlogDon’tLie.com

There is an art to every format we use at Bleacher Report, but none more than the live blog. Done right, a live blog can be your ticket to a loyal following on B/R, because the live blog is the spot where you can most spotlight your personality.

You’re keeping readers up to date on the event, but more importantly, you’re giving the reader the feeling of watching it with you at a sports bar. You’re the buddy for the reader to interact with, so perspective and variety are two keys to keeping your readers interested.

Here are some best practices, tips and tricks for perfecting this art form. 

GETTING STARTED

Create a headline and write the introduction text to your live blog.

In most cases at Bleacher Report, the main headline will come from your editor. If you are doing a live blog on your own and want to do everything to ensure it gets traffic, make sure the headline keywords—the words before the colon in the headline—are search-optimized for the event or game.

For events, the best general advice is to add the year to your event name, such as “British Open 2011.” For game live blogs, use the nicknames of both teams, such as “Heat vs. Celtics.” Include “Live Blog” as part of the keywords.

Use descriptive words like “Live Updates,” “Analysis” and “Instant Reaction” to describe what your live blog will cover.

Examples:

NFL Draft 2010 Live Blog: Results, Pick-By-Pick Analysis and Reaction

Saints vs. 49ers Monday Night Football: Live Reaction to Game’s Biggest Stories

INTRO TEXT

The first mistake many live bloggers make is not paying enough attention to the introduction text. It is the first words that most readers will see when they click on your live blog. So keeping this text as fresh as possible is important.

You’ll likely be asked to start your live blog hours ahead of the event. The perspective you can give at 2 p.m. for an 8 p.m. game is different than what you can provide at 7:30 p.m. as more folks start focusing on the game.

You always want your intro text to stay relevant. That means updating the text often—before, during and after the event. If your text says, “Stay tuned as we get ready for the tip” when the game is in the second quarter, your live blog will seem dated before readers even start to read it. After the event is completed, the intro text should be rewritten to serve as more of a recap of the event.

Tip: B/R editors Adam Hirshfield and Allen Kim both point out that a simple way to enhance your live blog is to add scoring updates at the bottom of the intro text throughout the event.  Add goals in soccer or the top 5 of the leaderboard in golf. Put the latest big plays and frequent score updates in NFL live blogs.

Self-editing is essential: Live blogs are not monitored automatically by editors. It is vitally important that you check, double-check and triple-check spelling and grammar on every post before hitting “Publish.” The simplest spelling error will ruin the legitimacy of your live blog. Learning to be your own best editor will instantly boost your credibility.

FORMATTING BASICS

The biggest comment from B/R veterans and executives when it comes to how to make your live blog stand out? Learn to be obsessive when it comes to bolding key text.

From the reader’s perspective, this gives your audience a sense of where the most important moments are in your blog.

From a design point of view, it makes your live blog look more professional. And with B/R writer tools, it’s as easy as clicking the bold button in your Microsoft Word program. Bolding text is one of those attention-to-detail basics that will instantly make your live blog stand out.

What text needs bolding? Score updates, draft picks, fight results, round-by-round scores for a fight and any key happenings in general that you want to draw the reader’s eye toward.

Examples:

43′, USA 1 France 0 (Weinbach goal 22′): Rampone launches a free kick straight into Sapowicz’s hands. Good to test her, she doesn’t always catch when she should.”

Round 8, Mayweather vs Hopkins (Projecting 37 to 32, Mayweather): Mayweather endures a flurry of jabs, but shows no ill effect.”

Round 1, Pick 15: New York Knicks – Iman Shumpert: A bit of a reach with a lot of available centers left …”

WRITING BASICS

One of the biggest questions from first-time live bloggers involves word count. How much should you write?

There’s no steadfast rules here. The briefer the better, because you want to be able to keep up with the action.

Use the commercial breaks and between quarters or periods as the spots where you spout off longer posts.

Try to mix up word counts as much as possible. A five-word post isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you’re saying something with those words.

Example:

Manning interception. Worst. Read. Ever.”

Use the intermissions between quarters or periods to throw out stats. Use halftime as a chance to give perspective on what you’ve seen so far.

Don’t sign off your live blog the minute the game ends. Give a breakdown of what happened and what the results mean for the teams involved. Look ahead to the team’s next games. Break down fantasy impact or your thoughts on the best fantasy moves based on the game.

The more interaction you can foster, the better. Ask open-ended questions related to the game for your readers to answer in the comments section.

Even better, encourage your readers to ask questions that you then highlight and answer in the live blog. B/R success story Nathaniel Uy built up a substantial following among fantasy football fanatics by employing this simple strategy.

Readers love seeing their name in lights. Moreover, it creates a one-on-one personal connection between reader and writer that is crucial for writers to build their personal brand. It’s no coincidence that Bill Simmons’ mailbag columns are among his most-read work. You’re singling out your audience members, letting them know you pay attention to their needs and give them what they’ll deem as insider information with your answer.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

The reader who prefers the live blog is likely watching the game right along with you. What does that mean for you?

Don’t regurgitate what you see. Assume that your audience is seeing it, too. They’re coming to you for a unique take on what they saw. You should be more color commentator than play-by-play announcer.

Whether it’s a controversial call or an I-can’t-believe-what-I-just saw winning moment, your best route is to put your spin on the event.

Plus, they’re looking for the full experience. Talk about things such as the fans at the event, the broadcasters, the weather, the uniforms, music playing at the arena, the commercials playing during the telecast. Be rooted in the on-field events, but don’t be afraid to go wherever you want to take the live blog.

Don’t recap each play. Many people are watching/listening to the game as they read the live blog. They’re looking for analysis, humor, insights … the blog works best as a supplement, not as a replacement for the broadcast.

Dylan McNamara, B/R NFL Deputy Editor

There will be some who are looking to you as their first line of information on a game or event. For that reason, the best blogs we’ve seen on the site mix in pertinent identifiers throughout their running commentary.

In TV and radio announcer training, you’re told to constantly update time and score. With live blogging, we’re not looking for constant. But peppering your updates with basic information creates a context for the reader to keep up or catch up.

Example:

Packers up, 23-20, 6:30 to go in the third. Should be Packers, 53-20, but Rodgers has been the football equivalent of Will Ferrell in ‘Bewitched.’”

There will also be plenty who come to your blog immediately after the big play to get your take on what happened or to see if you agree or disagree with their take. The best live bloggers will be able to identify in the moment if they’ve just seen a key spot in the game and “break it out” a bit—spend a little more time on that play to give proper perspective.

Your biggest successes with live blogging will come by achieving the tricky balance between basics, commentary and personality.

For me the key is to treat a live blog like you’re watching an event with your buddies. Keep the recapping to an absolute minimum, and instead offer up whatever thoughts are running through your head when you watch, i.e. the kind of stuff you’d say to your friends during an event. Jokes, insights, random musings, etc. I even like to make fun of the commercials.

I treat a live blog like somebody is checking it out as they watch whatever is going on as well. If you get too bogged down in the details of what’s happening, like you’re explaining it to someone who isn’t watching, it gets boring and stale. Have fun with it. I can go pretty much anywhere to find out what’s happening, but I’ll stick around in a live blog if it shows some personality.

Matt King, B/R expert blogger

Don’t be afraid to riff on the “color” of the game—great shot of the cheerleaders, a guy in the stands with no shirt on a 13-degree day, reaction to something idiotic (or insightful) that an announcer says. This all falls into the personality component that will make your live blog unique.

Have fun. Be a fan as much as you can, but be an equal-opportunity commentator. If you come off as a homer for one team or the other, prepare to be called out by your readers.

Don’t be afraid to take stances and offer up opinions. The bulk of the folks looking to your live blog want supplementary coverage that takes their game-viewing experience to another level. That means making them laugh, think and feel informed with water-cooler nuggets that make them sound like experts in the office the next day.

ABOVE AND BEYOND

Variety of media will also make your live blog have that above-and-beyond feel.

What does this mean?

Add photos to your live blog. You have access to the Getty Images archive simply by clicking “Add Photo” in the live blog updates.

Add videos. This could include video of crucial plays from earlier in the game that have been posted on YouTube. Or it could include video of topics that come up during the game. For example, Wes Welker’s press conference referencing Rex Ryan’s foot fetish came up often during the 2010 Divisional Playoff showdown. The video of the press conference went viral. Bloggers included the video link in blogs when they referenced the issue to give the reader a point of reference.

Use Twitter in your live blog. It’s another way to create more of a conversational feel. Bring in what other media experts are saying about the game or the key moments as launching off points for your own opinions. B/R prefers the TweetDeck player to view Twitter. Ask your editor for a TweetDeck tutorial and for access to the B/R media experts feed on TweetDeck. This feed includes the top sports experts on Twitter and can be an invaluable resource to reference in your live blog.

Weave Bleacher Report article links into your narrative. Point readers to both your own stories and other B/R stories that will give more perspective on a player, team or issue. You’ll make friends among your fellow B/R writers linking out to their articles, but more importantly, you’ll give the reader the most informed stances as possible. Don’t think of it as directing folks away from your blog. You’re simply supplementing their experience with longer reads. More often than not, they’ll save those links to read once they’re through with your live blog.

BEST PRACTICES

Here’s a starter kit of some of the best recent examples of live blogs to give you proven examples of what’s worked on B/R.

* 2011 NBA Finals coverage by NBA featured columnist Andy BaileyHere and here.

2011 NBA Draft coverage from budding draft guru Max Minsker

An older example of live blogging from NFL Deputy Editor Dylan McNamara that serves as a great example of how to mix up comedy and commentary.

Neri Stein captured the excitement around the 2011 Women’s World Cup final:

* One of the all-time favorites among many B/R staffers: Live blogging “The Decision” by Matt King

BT Column 5/14: When It Comes To Bullying and Depression, An Email Can Save Lives

Here’s a link to my May 14, 2014 column for Bluffton Today.

Here’s the text.

When it comes to bullying and depression, an email can save lives

OVER MEDIUM

Tim Wood

I received a number of “welcome back”-type emails over the last couple weeks and I’m grateful for every one of them. But the one email I’m most grateful for came from a student at McCracken Middle School.

He had a simple request.

“Please talk about Celeste Wills,” he said.

He didn’t know 12-year-old Celeste, but he sympathized with her story.

Wills died on April 30 of what authorities believe may have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Robert Smalls Middle School sixth-grader wrote about her struggles with depression and with bullying at school on an online blog that sadly too few saw before her death.

The Bluffton student wanted to make it clear to me that he was not at risk.

“I’m one of the lucky ones, I guess. I’m happy and I stay out of the line of fire,” he wrote. “But it’s happening every day in schools and online. She’s not alone.”

I would also count myself as one of the lucky ones, in that I survived bullying in a different generation. I was a very quiet middle schooler. I played sports, but I had just enough chubbiness going on and even worse, I wore my emotions on my sleeve.

So kids knew when they scored a direct hit with a verbal onslaught. And those kids didn’t let up, because they knew it got to me and that I rarely had a retort.

I’m thankful for a couple of teachers who both protected me and encouraged me to get those emotions out in my writing. It’s why I was so sure I wanted to be a writer so early on. My journal, my keyboard, it became my outlet.

Back then, I knew that I only had to survive the hell until 3 pm. The minute I was inside my house, they couldn’t touch me.

Nowadays, the ways that bullies can get to you are endless. There’s Facebook, Twitter and probably 16 social networks most of us haven’t heard of that kids are already trying out.

There’s even online voice chat through the games they play on Xbox and Playstation.

So they never feel safe. I see the horrors that my niece has gone through with Facebook bullying and I swore I would keep my kids off social media as long as I could.

But that’s just avoiding the inevitable. The real key is just talking and educating, instilling confidence in our kids so they know that the bullies are the real weak ones. They’re just lashing out at others because they have a lot of issues of their own.

I wish I had known all this truth in middle school. I went home and I rarely talked about it with my parents. It only came out when I was brought to tears at school and couldn’t hide it when I got home.

I’m blessed that I found outlets for that anguish, that I found passions in my life that made it clear that my daily torture would get better. Eventually I found confidence in myself and I didn’t let them see that they were getting to me. Soon enough, the bullies moved on to the next target.

There are plenty who want the Beaufort County School District to do more about bullying. And yes, there should always be more education and always be more talking.

Sadly, this is a problem in the trenches that the school board can’t solve. Policies can punish, but the true bullies do most of their damage working around the rules.

Thirty years later, bullies are still here. They have more weapons than ever at their disposal. But likewise, we have just as many weapons to expose them for what they are.

The biggest weapon is talking. It’s not tattling. It’s simply shining light on the cockroaches. It’s amazing how powerless they become with just the slightest bit of sunlight.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. I’m encouraged that we as a society are talking about depression more than ever, but the stigma is going away too slowly.

Mental illness is real. It’s not a choice. Would anyone really choose to be depressed?

If you have a broken leg, you get surgery, you go through rehab. This is no different. Your brain is broken, it needs rehab. Too often, the shame of the illness overtakes this logic.

In many cases, there are genetic tendencies toward chemical imbalances that we have no idea about. Bullying can accelerate the issues into a depression that seems inescapable. And then we’re dealing with tragedies.

Most of us spend too much time saying, “Boy, I’m glad that’s not me,” and moving on.

Whether it’s bullying or depression, it’s too often the case.

There’s a group of Beaufort students performing a play they penned, “When You See Something, Say Something.” It’s a beautiful thing. Young adults talking about the issue in the moment. Every move like this, it truly saves lives.

The young man who sent me the email showed the kind of courage and maturity that will save lives.

No one talked about it 30 years ago. We’re making progress. I hope that we honor Celeste Wills by shaming the bullies into silence with our words and our actions.

Depression and bullying are two everyday wars that need constant support.

Take the time to be educated. Take the time to help.

Tim Wood is a writer living in Bluffton. Email him with comments or story ideas at timmaywood@gmail.com.

Hilton Head Monthly: Wounded Warriors Feature

This story comes from the May 2014 edition of Hilton Head Monthly. 

Here’s the text …

Lowcountry Foundation for Wounded Heroes was created to support local wounded veterans

By Tim Wood

The mission was born out of compassion and camaraderie.

Six years ago, Master Sgt. Todd Nelson suffered catastrophic injuries when a roadside device blew up his vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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Nelson’s parents, Jim and Wendy Miller, live in Hampton Hall in Bluffton. When neighbor Russ Spicer had a chance to meet Nelson four years ago, he did what comes natural to him — the former Army helicopter pilot mobilized his friends.

“It really struck me to find out that there was next to no local support for wounded veterans here,” Spicer said. “So we set out to make that happen.”

And thus the Lowcountry Foundation for Wounded Military Heroes was born. Its goal is to help heroes like Nelson as they battle the never-ending effects of war.

Nelson returned statewide to begin a grueling journey filled with 40-plus surgeries to reconstruct his face. Spicer’s friend Peter Doukas said meeting Nelson was a lifechanging moment.

“To meet him, there’s no way you walk away from that and not do something,” said the fellow Hampton Hall resident and former Marine Corps reservist. “We can not forget the folks that give us these freedoms.”

Fellow Hampton Hall residents felt the same and the ranks of volunteers grew rapidly. The group aligned itself with “Birdies for the Brave,” a charity supported by pro golfers Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson and run by former Navy SEAL Team 7 member Stephen Kupcha.

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Spicer and his crew organized a charity golf tournament three years ago. With 125 volunteers in tow, the group not only raised a good chunk of money, but made an impression on the community with their mission to keep every cent raised in the Lowcountry for our often forgotten heroes.

Ed Giannelli was one of the folks impacted by what he saw. The Berkeley Hall resident said getting to hear Nelson speak at the event was amazing.

“He looks at the crowd, says, ‘Lend me your ear’ and then takes off his prosthetic ear. From there, we were all just riveted,” he said. “To have that positive of an attitude through all the fight he’s been through, it’s incredibly inspiring.”

Giannelli was equally impressed with the organization behind the golf event.

“It was the finest run event I’d ever been part of,” said the former printing business owner from Long Island. “I saw it and the cause and I had to be part of it.” Giannelli isn’t a veteran, but had a cousin die in Vietnam and son-in-law who has been through two deployments. He worked tirelessly to recruit fellow Berkeley Hall members to work on the Foundation events — last year, he doubled both the amount of volunteers (56) and the amount of donations to $12,000 alone from the Berkeley donors.

“If we had one of Ed in every local community, we’d take off even more than we already have,” Doukas said. “It’s amazing to see so many folks come together for such a meaningful cause.”

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The organization has raised over $190,000 over the last three years and has worked with Birdies for the Brave (B4B) to disburse the funds solely to area recipients. In conjunction with B4B and the Military Warrior Support Foundation (MWSF), the group donated mortgage-free homes to two military families, one in Santee and one just south of Savannah.

The foundation has also donated a motorized wheelchair to a wounded soldier and a solo-rider golf cart, which lets disabled golfers swing at the ball while sitting in the cart, to the Legends Golf Course at Parris Island.

And during each year’s tourney, the students at the Professional Golfers Career College have provided one-on-one clinics to 12-18 wounded Purple Heart recipients from Fort Stewart, the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort and Parris Island.

So far, donations have been channeled to three charities to date, the MWSF, Operation Homefront and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Two new charities, K9s for Warriors and the Troops First Foundation, will benefit from this year’s golf tourney.

This year marked an expansion of the volunteer group’s efforts. The foundation worked with John Kilmer Fine Interiors and builder John Moleski to stage a showcase home in Hampton Hall. The home was open for viewing in February and March, with all proceeds from admission going to the Foundation.

The relationship between Kilmer and the Foundation began with Doukas’ wife (Lynn) discussing the group with Kilmer 18 months ago. “The more I heard, the more I wanted to be involved. In October, we ran an in-store event that raised $5,000,” Kilmer said. “With The Wounded Heroes Golf Classic is set for May 19 at Hampton Hall. the showcase home, we wanted to take that commitment a step further.”

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Last year’s golf tourney alone raised $95,000, including a $10,000 check from an anonymous donor.

Spicer said the group fully intends to break records with the May 19 Wounded Heroes Golf Classic at Hampton Hall. The entry fee is $800 per foursome. If you want to play or run a business that would like to sponsor the event, call 843-815-6339.

And if you’re not a golfer but want to get involved, the foundation has a new website, http://www.woundedmilitaryheroes.org, thanks to the efforts of USCB students under the direction of Marine veteran and teacher Lee Fair. The site accepts PayPal donations of any size.

“We’re working so hard to honor those who allow us this lifestyle,” Spicer said. “To see the community embrace this means so much. These heroes, their battle never ends. Todd was the impetus here, but there’s hundreds of thousands like him. So many people want to help. This is just steering them on how to make that impact.”