Former NFL players to be guests at Joe Fortunato tournament

Published 12:25 am Friday, April 30, 2010

NATCHEZ — Duncan Park will play host to several former NFL players, a slew of food and a good time Saturday at the 16th annual Joe Fortunato Golf Tournament.

Each year, the Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame gives out seven scholarships to one student-athlete from each local school. The tournament serves as the primary fundraiser for each scholarship, said tournament founder Joe Fortunato.

“If it wasn’t for that, we probably wouldn’t do it,” Joe Fortunato said. “When those kids’ mothers and fathers see their child get that scholarship, it means a lot to them.

“It’s very special to bless them with a scholarship. When they write us a letter after they finish college telling us how they never would have been able to get a degree in this or that without it, that means a lot to us.”

The scholarship money is deposited into the student’s account after enrollment at a college is confirmed. It’s also available to use for graduate school if the student doesn’t need it for undergrad.

Special guests will include former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver/kick returner Noland Smith, as well as former Green Bay Packer Allen Brown, who will help cook Saturday.

The tournament currently has close to 100 people signed up. Joe Fortunato’s wife Catherine, who helps her husband organize the event, said there are still openings for people to sign up.

“We have room for more if anyone would like to play,” Catherine Fortunato said. “We’re going to hold out and hope the weather will be favorable. We’ll be out there at 7 a.m., and if we have to postpone a couple of hours because of rain, we’ll do what we have to do.”

Joe Fortunato said the tournament offers a laid-back atmosphere for golfers, where tournament results aren’t the most important thing.

“Nobody has to worry about getting in first place, second place, third place and so on,” Joe Fortunato said. “It’s just about having a good time, eating, drinking and being merry.”

Catherine Fortunato offered her thanks to the many people that helped her husband and her organize the tournament.

“I just want to thank all of our supporters, golfers and people who have helped us for years,” she said. “We have a good working crew this year.”