Sari Cicurel, the new executive director of the Michigan Jewish Sports Foundation, knew quite a bit about the inner workings of the foundation’s Hank Greenberg Memorial Golf Invitational before she started her new job earlier this year.
She had been the foundation’s community relations director for six years, which prepared her for the first invitational held under her watch. But not entirely.
“I had an entirely different perspective this year,” Cicurel said last week, after the June 11 invitational at Franklin Hills Country Club.
Thankfully for Cicurel and the Karmanos Cancer Institute at the Lawrence and Idell Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center, the perspective included a great day of fundraising for the center and some of the most poignant moments in the 28-year history of the invitational.
“We had 164 golfers, many more than usual, and 85 people came just to the dinner,” Cicurel said. “The turnout is a big reason why this was one of the most significant Greenberg events.”
Cicurel thinks the popularity of the Greenberg Invitational honorees — former Detroit Tigers star Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Jeremy Schaap and Ian Burnstein from the Gary Burnstein Community Health Clinic in Pontiac — had a lot to do with the crowd size.
Rodriguez, a 2017 inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame, received the Hank Greenberg Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award.
Schaap, an eight-time Emmy Award-winning ESPN reporter and author and frequent Greenberg Invitational participant, was presented the Dick Schaap Memorial Award for Media Excellence, named for his father.
Burnstein is president of the board of directors of the not-for-profit Burnstein Clinic, established by his late father, which offers free health and dental services to uninsured low-income patients. Burnstein received the Barry Bremen Memorial Inspiration Award.
A raffle drawing for a trip to the following year’s Masters golf tournament has become a part of the Greenberg Invitational festivities.
This year’s winner was Noah Bremen. The Bremen Memorial Inspiration Award is named for his father.
Instead of accepting the Masters prize, Noah asked that it be auctioned to the highest bidder. Adam Bremen, Noah’s brother and the first recipient of the Bremen Award, was the auctioneer.
William Gahagan, Hank Greenberg’s grandson on his first trip to Detroit, and Ian Burnstein engaged in a friendly bidding war for the prize. Burnstein’s $3,500 bid won, adding more to the Greenberg Invitational coffers.
Then there was the invitational’s 50/50 drawing. Cicurel said the winner of $980 gave the money to the Burnstein Clinic after hearing Ian Burnstein’s award acceptance speech.
With Father’s Day less than a week away, Schaap and Burnstein spoke emotionally about their late fathers — Dick Schapp and Gary Burnstein — during their award acceptance talks.
Circurel said Greenberg Invitational co-chairs J.J. Modell and Brian Eisenberg did a great job organizing the event, and foundation board members played a major role in gathering a large number of silent and live auction items.
One thing the foundation can’t control each year is the weather the day of the invitational. This year, it was perfect.
“Gorgeous,” Circurel said. “We were very lucky.”
Next on the foundation’s plate is the annual Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner. That will take place Oct. 22 at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield.
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