But spring flooding put the project in a state of limbo, since other entities needed assistance with flood relief from the groups offering grants.
"It put us in a rough position because we needed funding for the project, but the Q-C as a whole needed funding,'' McLaughlin-Cross said. "So we weren't really sure if it was going to happen for us.''
When funding came through, a relieved and grateful McLaughlin-Cross realized they faced another hurdle.
"The problem was we are in the Midwest, which means the First Tee program is only happening from April to September — if we are lucky,'' she said.
"We didn't want the van to sit in a parking lot in the winter and not be used by those in need. That is when we decided to make this a collaboration project with our partners, which are the Martin Luther King Center, Rock Island Parks and Recreation, and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley.''
The van will be shared between by the four groups. "Our partners are able to use it for so much more than just bringing kids to First Tee programming,'' McLaughlin-Cross said. "They are able to transport kids to any program they want.''
This week, the new van is ready and available to transport youths to the John Deere Classic golf tournament in Silvis. First Tee is the Youth Day sponsor at the local PGA event.
Tuesday, the first 750 kids arriving at the Family Zone at 10 a.m. will receive gift packages that will include a bobblehead of defending JDC champ Michael Kim and a First Tee hat. A meal at the course will be provided by Chick-fil-A.
The day also will feature the Lunch & Learn With a Pro program. It will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the John Deere hospitality tent located behind the 18th green. The question-and-answer session will feature former University of Illinois All-American golfer Scott Langley, a First Tee graduate who is a PGA Tour regular. At 2 p.m., the youth clinic will take place.
Collaboration was key to success
John Gripp, Rock Island's parks and recreation director, is thrilled with the new van.
"It's an excellent get for the King Center and us,'' Gripp said. "It's great for the kids involved. It will allow us to put 300 young people through the (First Tee) program.''
A grateful McLaughlin-Cross had high praise for the Moline Foundation, Scott County Regional Authority, Regional Development Authority, and Rock Island Parks and Recreation Foundation.