Volunteer of the Year
Tony’s first year volunteering at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide was in 2014 for the Leaderboards committee. He had just started a new position at work (Nationwide) with a team that had volunteered at the Memorial the previous year as a team building activity. Tony was lucky enough to also step in a fulfill a last-minute cancellation spot for letter cleaning, an activity that involves preparing all the Leaderboard inventory in advance of Tournament week. Letter cleaning included catered breakfast and lunch so Tony thought it all too good to be true. He realized he was hooked on the volunteer experience a month before the tournament even started!
In the beginning, Tony admitted that the idea of getting free passes to one of the greatest tournaments in golf was one of his main motivations that led him to volunteer at the Memorial Tournament.
However, things changed for Tony when he attended his first Volunteer Night, a special event hosted by the Memorial to thank Tournament volunteers. That night it really started to sink in for Tony… this had become much more than free passes.
Beyond the sheer amount of thought and effort that so obviously went into organizing volunteer night, Tony still recalls how impressed he was seeing all the volunteers gathered for the first time. He remembered thinking, “I can’t believe I get to be a part of this, I can’t believe I can make such a difference. I can get used to this!” Then came the annual announcement of the Tournament’s Volunteer of the Year. At that moment, Tony realized what volunteering at the Memorial Tournament really meant to him. It was something his daughter could really be proud of, and a connection for Tony to his daughter’s grandmother, Debbie Johnson, who worked at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as a nurse. He recalls the admiration he had for the gentleman who was honored, his commitment to the Memorial Tournament for well over a decade. From that moment on Tony pledged to himself to have that same level of commitment, with or without the recognition, as a way to give back to the community and honor his daughter’s grandmother’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of young children.
With every single role Tony has so willingly stepped into as a volunteer at the Memorial he has displayed an immense amount of pride and commitment. Even if he initially felt extremely cool, being the guy that got to change the scoreboards seen on television— despite the realization that was the coolest he’d ever be at the Tournament, as he baked in the sun for an entire day, he still decided to come back to the Leadersboards Committee the next year.
Tony appreciates all the little details that go into the Tournament and takes none of them for granted. Including, committee members remembering him by name year after year. His fellow volunteers are a big reason why he keeps coming back.
During the 2019 Memorial Tony stepped up without hesitation when asked to switch assignments, going from Concessions to helping at the gates as a Gate Ambassador. He also received his 5-year pin in 2019 and was blown away by the gesture.
About the Award
Volunteers are at the heart of the Memorial Tournament’s dedication to the Memorial Tournament Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Every year thousands of volunteers share their passion for helping others by giving their time and talents to the success of the Tournament.
More than thirty Nationwide Children's Hospital Auxilians serve on the the Memorial Tournament Volunteer Committee, benefiting Nationwide Children's Hospital. They are responsible for recruiting, scheduling and managing volunteers throughout the Tournament. This dedicated committee, representing the Memorial Tournament and Nationwide Children's Hospital, works to ensure professionalism from all Tournament volunteers.
For every hour worked by one of the volunteers of the Memorial Tournament Volunteer Committee, a donation is made to the Memorial Tournament NICU. It is in recognition of these selfless men and women that the Tournament annually honors an individual as the Volunteer of the Year.
The program began in 2003 and has since celebrated a recipient of the coveted award each year.
The Memorial Tournament Volunteer Committee kicks off the nomination process each year by requesting that each of the 15 committees recommend potential candidates. From those recommendations the top three candidates are chosen and voted on by a select committee of Tournament Officials. The Volunteer of the year is formally announced each May just prior to the start of Tournament week.
The Memorial's Volunteer of the Year award is supported by: