The 2011 John Deere Classic broke a record for money raised by almost $1 million.

The 2012 campaign crushed that record — raising $1.5 million more than the previous year.

And it all goes to local charities and community organizations.

During a news conference Wednesday at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, tournament staff and volunteers shared their excitement with representatives of the 493 funded programs that stopped by to pick up their checks.

“It is really amazing,” said Kristy Ketcham Jackson, director of Birdies for Charity, the program that oversees solicitation of pledges and distribution of the funds. This year, 20,000 businesses and individuals made pledges based on the number of birdies shot by the professional golfers during the golf tournament.

A total of $6,785,366 was raised, with $6 million from Birdies for Charity, she said. Last year, a total of $5,286,457 was raised.

Tournament director Clair Peterson said $500,000 was raised in bonus funds for the charities.

“Every year, we budget what our bonus promise will be and what our promise bonus this year was 5 percent,” Jackson said.

The bonus funds also are shared by the recipients. With additional support by Deere & Co., the tournament’s title sponsor, and direct donations to the bonus fund, the bonus ended up being 8 percent.

Tournament representatives said that with the 8 percent bonus, a charity receiving a $10,000 check for its birdies pledges received a second check for $800.

This year’s amount brings to more than $49 million the total amount of charitable contributions since the Quad-Cities began hosting a PGA tournament in 1971.

Jackson said because Moline-based Deere & Co. celebrated its 175th anniversary this year, the manufacturer donated $175 for each birdie recorded on Saturday and Sunday of the tournament. That equaled an extra $110,000 “on top of everything they already did,” she said.

Peterson said after the John Deere Classic paid its bills and watched the pledges come in, it became apparent it was a very good year.

“As time went on, the numbers became more clear and exciting,” he said. “It is the tremendous generosity of this community.”

In addition, the amount donated this year works out to $18.11 for each of the 375,000 people living in the Quad-City area, making the John Deere Classic No. 1 in per-capita charitable giving among regular PGA tour events, based on the population, officials said.

Diane Motz of LeClaire was among those happy folks who picked up their checks. She represents one of the T.T.T. Society clubs in the Quad-Cities. Based in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, she said the clubs donate funds to help 10-year-old girls to attend summer camps. The organization, which is 101 years old, has more than 4,000 members in 14 states.

“We are just thankful to get that 8 percent bonus,” she said. “It is very helpful for our fundraising efforts.”

Paul Soyke of rural Coal Valley represented Immanuel Lutheran Church in Rock Island, another Birdies for Charity recipient.

“Mostly, we do Christmas and Thanksgiving baskets and other needs that come up,” he said. “The bonus is great. Just the whole increase this year is fantastic.”

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