Tee off with Cliff for cancer research

Published 2:02 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011

By Fred Middleton

This year’s Cliff Merritt Invitational Golf Tournament will be Friday and Saturday, at Beau Pré Country Club with a focus on Ryder Cup play and fundraising efforts for Relay for Life.

Last year’s inaugural event offered a unique sight with 72 golfers dressed in T. Berry knickers, while it was also a huge financial success resulting in $10,000 donated for cancer research.

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This year’s tournament offers a Friday night pig roast and putting contest, while allowing golfers to pre-register and fellowship.

Saturday morning’s opening ceremony will be a poignant start to fierce competition between the black knickers’ team and khaki knickers’ team. To begin the day of play, tournament namesake Cliff Merritt will tee off with the opening drive.

For those of you who know Cliff Merritt, you know him for his success as president of Delta Bank and as a community leader.

Organizational leaders understand that great businesses have leaders who possess character, integrity and courage.

Delta Bank has been fortunate to have Cliff’s steady hand at the helm for years, and one only has to spend a few minutes in the bank to realize the impact he has on so many lives on a daily basis.

Again, known traits of effective leaders are humility and the earned love and respect of employees, and Cliff certainly exemplifies that. Cliff brings that same energy to his intention to fund cancer research.

In addition, he brings his wife, Debra, who reflects his purpose with intensity and talent.

As we gathered to discuss and plan the tournament this year, it’s clear that two things are very important to Cliff: early detection through screening and research through funding.

He stresses that if this event encourages one person to have a screening, it has all been worthwhile. We all agree that too many of us have been affected by cancer, and the responsibility falls on all of us to continue to do our part.

The tournament couldn’t be a success without the commitment of countless volunteers who give so generously of their time and financial resources.

Clubhouse sponsorships are available at $150, and hole sponsorships are available at $250.

Please donate, either individually or through your company, to the golf tournament by check to Delta Bank, P.O. Box 930, Vidalia, LA 71373.

All proceeds from the tournament will go to Relay for Life.

On behalf of our committee, we would encourage everyone to do two things:

1. Have appropriate cancer screenings, and 2. Make a financial contribution in any capacity to the Miss-Lou Relay for Life.

Fred Middleton is a Natchez resident and an organizer of the golf tournament.