‘Hunts for Healing’ teed off Sunday at Rock Creek

BY MARTY MYERS, Times-Shamrock Writer

When he learned about the Hunts for Healing program, Rock Creek Golf Course general manager Jim Olecki took action.

A one-day golf tournament, he figured, could raise a couple thousand dollars to help wounded veterans regain some sense of normalcy to their lives.

What it evolved into stunned almost everyone at the Nicholson golf course.

“I hoped for $2,000 and we raised $8,250,” Olecki said.

On Sunday, the second annual tournament will teed off.

“Our course is small, but we’re making great strides up here and we’re looking to do more,” Olecki said.

Real winners from the event won’t be golfers, however.

“The physical injuries are enough, but they ask, how can I ever take my young son fishing or hunting or camping, and that’s what this program is all about,” Olecki said. “I decided I needed to do it and I hope to continue it year after year.”

For a day of fishing or hunting and to house and feed a wounded veteran for a day costs about $750 per person. Transportation is provided by Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

On Sunday, three young wounded Marines, whom Olecki said are just out of Walter Reed, made the almost five-hour trip to join former Congressman Chris Carney, Olecki, other veterans from the area and golfers to salute and support them.

“These young boys are so grateful,” Olecki said. “Here they are with unbelievable injures and they are so grateful to the people who are trying to help them. It’s a wonderful experience.”

One that Olecki thanks local of Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts for their support.

“Our local VFW at Lenox corners, I went to them last year and asked for a $100 hole sponsorship,” Olecki recalled. “They said, ‘We’ll do better than that. We’ll provide the food.’ I was shocked.”

After that, the VFW hosted its own tournament the week before Olecki’s and raised more money.

This year’s event was held July 8. It raised $1,000.

“These veterans are just unbelievable,” Olecki said. “I’ve been getting donations from the VFWs from Montrose, Pleasant Mount, Hallstead, all over, and American Legion posts.”

All to help brothers in arms who’ve come home and had to learn to adjust to living without a limb or with some other traumatic injury.

“When I see these young kids that have gone out and done this for us – truly the greatest country in the world – and they have given up most of their life, coming back with these tremendous injuries,” Olecki said. “I needed to let them know there are people who care about them and want to help them in their transition to their normal, if you want to call it that, life.”