Meet the Mets: Charity golf event supports Special Olympics
Published 3:51 pm, Wednesday, June 22, 2011
"Actually, I am a Yankee fan," Hedrick said. "But today I am a Met. I have been doing Special Olympics for 17 years, since I was 9. Without Special Olympics I do not know where my life would be. I would probably be home sitting on my butt doing who knows what."
Hedrick, from Trumbull, and several other Special Olympians were on hand for the 18th annual Mike Lupica and Jeff Wilpon Golf Invitational to benefit the Special Olympics of Connecticut at Fairview Country Club Monday morning.
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The event has raised over $1.5 million for the cause since its inception.
Wilpon, chief operating officer of the Mets and the son of owner Fred Wilpon, has been involved in the golf tournament for a decade and is pleased to be holding the event here.
"It is wonderful to do this in Greenwich and to have a good cause," Wilpon said. "This means that our guys are committed to giving back to the community. They were going to be playing golf anyway, so the fact that they came here to support this charity is great."
Along with Wilpon, New York Mets Manager Terry Collins and General Manager Sandy Alderson were in attendance, as were players Justin Turner, Dillon Gee, Scott Hairston and Daniel Murphy, as well as former Mets great Rusty Staub.
Collins knows it is tough for his players to give up a precious day off, but was confident they would come out.
"You have to give back," Collins said. "That is part of our job, to give back to the community and the fans and a great charity. It is really cool for the players to come out because we just came off a grueling two weeks, and for them to come out on their only day off in two weeks is why they are such a great group of guys."
Lupica, a 1050 ESPN radio host and sports writer, knew the Mets' support was crucial to the success of the event and was grateful that the players and coaches would spend part of their day supporting the cause.
"It is a huge thing," Lupica said. "They get sick of Jeff and me after five minutes, so to get Terry, Sandy, and Justin Turner and Dillon Gee is great. We have had a tremendous partnership with the Mets and with Guardian and having the Mets just enhances it."
Guardian Life Insurance has been a longtime sponsor of the event, and Guardian Chief Executive Dennis Manning looks forward to hitting the links every year.
"It is fabulous. We have done it 10 or 12 years," Manning said. "To see these kids that years ago would have been institutionalized and now they can compete makes it worth it."
"It is a huge fundraiser," Carlone said. "The funds we get here is what allows our athletes to compete, and we have over 6,400 athletes competing in Connecticut."