A volunteer force of 1,700-plus Quad-Citians is the foundation of the John Deere Classic (JDC). Grunts like longtime Quad-City educator and community leader Chuck Austin are the foundation of that foundation.

The more than $83 million the JDC has generated for local charities since 1971 wasn't raised without serious sweat equity from folks like Chuck. Let's face it. The Quad-Cities really aren't big enough to build and keep one of just 46 sanctioned PGA Tour events played around the world this year. But we make up in heart what we lack in size. That's because of people like Chuck.

If you were planning to donate a penny per birdie through Birdies for Charity to your favorite local 501(c)(3) this year, can I suggest you make it two pennies to honor the work of people like Chuck Austin, people who genuinely dedicate their lives to making this community better?

You could even add another penny to honor Glenn Blair, a longtime board member and decades-long volunteer who, as tourney chair when the Birdies program debuted in 1993, made the very first pledge to the program. Glenn died too suddenly last winter and, like Chuck, will be sorely missed next week.

These are the great people who make a great event great, and who make our community even greater. I am humbled by their spirit and dedication.

Craig DeVrieze

East Moline

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