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Family comes first for Foley

Eric J. Shelton — The Natchez Democrat Natchez native Bob Foley was diagnosed with cancer in January. His friend Clay Arnold organized a golf tournament in order to raise money for Foley and his family. The event will be April 16 at Duncan Park.

NATCHEZ —One Christmas morning, about 40 years ago, a young Bob Foley and a young Clay Arnold each received their own, brand new, set of golf clubs.

The two, now 50, grew up together in Natchez.

They are now lifelong friends, and from the day they each got their new set of clubs they have played golf together.

On Saturday, April 16 the two hope to be able to play together again in a fundraising tournament to benefit Foley and his family.

Foley, who now lives in Vidalia, was diagnosed with lung cancer in January, and it has since spread to other parts of his body. He is unsure of how much longer he has left, he said.

“It’s only been three months (since I was diagnosed),” Foley said.

“It’s just something that, one, is disbelief and, two, all you can think about is your kids.”

The importance that Foley places on the welfare of his children is the main reason Arnold decided to organize the golf tournament.

“That’s the whole purpose, (to help the children out),” Foley said.

Foley has two daughters, Cameron, 8, and Madeline, 6. He also has one son, Dylan, 1. He is married to Jennifer Foley.

Arnold felt it was only natural to have a golf tournament to raise money, since the two had been playing together for so long, he said.

“A golf tournament brings a bunch of good friends and people that care about you together at one place,” Arnold said.

“(It was) especially (good) with Bob being a golfer and playing lots of golf in his life. I just thought it was a great idea to get all of his friends at one place that he really likes.”

That place is Duncan Park golf course, where the two grew up playing, and where Foley insisted that this tournament be played.

“That was the only (request) that I made, (to have the tournament at Duncan Park)” Foley said.

“I’ve played everywhere else but this has always been like home.”

Duncan Park was the home course for the two friends when they were dominating the prep golf circuit for Cathedral School’s golf team together. The team only lost two matches when they were there, Arnold said.

Arnold plans on a few former Cathedral teammates making it out to the tournament, he said.

Foley is scheduled for chemotherapy the Thursday before the tournament, but he hopes to be able to put it off, so he can try to play, he said.

“There’s just something about (golf), it’s just so relaxing, and it’s the camaraderie and the friendships that you make over all the years (that make it special),” Foley said.

Foley worked in the oil business before he was diagnosed. He was also a resort chef for 24 years. Among the places he worked was Glacier National Park and Deer Valley National, he said.

He then moved back home in October of 2001, when he met his wife, Jennifer, “who, might I say, has been gracious through all of this,” he said.

The tournament will start at 8:30 a.m. and end around 1 p.m., at Duncan Park. It is $75 for individuals and $300 for a four-man team.

Entry fees include lunch, which will be hamburgers, chips, beans and drinks. There will also be prizes donated, that will be awarded to the tournament winners.

After the four-man scramble tournament is over, and everyone has finished their lunches, there will be a hole-in-one contest, which will cost $5 to enter, Arnold said.

“(The tournament) is very special and I can’t thank Clay (Arnold) and everybody enough for what they’re doing, not only for me but my family,” Foley said.

Arnold hopes to have several teams participating in the tournament, he said.

“Natchez is a small, quaint town, and when it’s time for the troops to rally they rally,” Arnold said.

“We just need people to come on out here and sign up and give a little bit of their time and money, it’s for a good cause.”

All money raised will go to Foley and his family. Individuals and teams can register at Duncan Park. Arnold hopes to have players registered before April 16, so that everything can be planned ahead, he said.

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