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hope to walk golf tournament | raleigh, nc special events photographer

I recently had the privilege to photograph the Hope to Walk Golf Tournament to benefit NTAF South Atlantic SCI Fund in honor of former Wolfpack basketball player Brian Keeter. “Keeter” (as he is affectionately called by most State fans) was a State fan favorite during his time on the basketball team, with his popularity reaching almost cult-like status by his senior year.

About a year and a half ago, Brian was involved in a serious accident that left him paralyzed from the naval down, and fighting for his life (full story here). Luckily Brian’s competitive spirit, refusal to give up, and constant prayer and support from fans and loved ones have helped him make strides in recovery, however he is still in intense rehab, hoping to one day walk again. The four months of hospitalization and non-stop care, treatment, and rehab have helped Brian tremendously, but the medical bills that have followed have put a huge burden on the Keeter family. Even with insurance, out of pocket costs for three to four weeks of therapy alone will cost over $7,000. Moreover, the overall financial hardship associated with spinal cord injuries is overwhelming. First year expenses alone average $283,388 and life expenses for paraplegics cost over $700,000 (National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, 2009).

To help out, David McGee, longtime supporter and friend of the NC State basketball program, planned a captain’s choice golf tournament at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course. I would say the event was a huge success. Over 140 golfers turned out to hit the links in support of Brian, making the event a huge success. Additionally, women’s basketball coach Kelly Harper and many of Brian’s former teammates were on hand to lend their support as well.

If you’d like to follow Brian’s recovery, his family has a blog set up. If you’re interested in donating to Brian’s cause and recovery, visit his page on the NTAF Web site.

To view complete event gallery and get free downloads of all the photos, visit galleries.

A sea of golfers all lined up in their carts, awaiting the shotgun start.

Only the most discriminating golfer uses a Tuffy head cover…in other words, I really just thought it was cute!

The sports memorabilia silent auction featured basketballs signed by NC State coach Sidney Lowe, Arizona State (and Keeter’s former coach) coach Herb Sendek, and even a team ball signed by national champions Duke. It also included hockey sticks, pucks and jerseys autographed by the Carolina Hurricanes…and a much coveted autographed Chipper Jones jersey… Coach Kelly Harper was on hand to offer her support. Her down-to-earth personality is quickly making her a fan favorite. A golfer in action…
Getting ready to tee off… Chris Corchiani of ‘Fire & Ice’ fame tries to sink a putt…while assistant basketball coach Larry Harris shows his form on the tee box. — Does that make me sound like I actually know something about the game of golf? Don’t let that fool you!
Tournament organizer David McGee (red jacket) wishes assistant basketball coach Pete Strickland and his team good luck. Former player Will Roach (right) and teammate share a laugh. The longest putt challenge — this was not it, however. The winning golfer sank the putt. The Lonnie Poole Golf Course with some of the Raleigh skyline in the background… Keeter’s dad chats with former players and teammates Damon Thornton (left) and Justin Gainey…and Illian Evtimov. Brian reminisces with teammate Cornelius Williams…
Mike Warren, member of the ’83 championship team; Lou Pucillo, State basketball player in the late 1950’s; Chris Corchiani; and Chris Combs, former NC State and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball player
Golfers enjoyed a great lunch provided by 1750 Ordinary and Ruckus Pizza. Brian with former teammates Will Roach, Julius Hodge and Illian Evtimov. It was great to see all the former players there to support Brian and lend a hand to the cause.  The top two teams tied with a score of 55… Brian shares a few words of thanks with the crowd… and Coach Strickland injects his special brand of wit and humor into the raffle. My friend and Wolfpack Club director Bobby Purcell shares words of support and encouragement with Keeter. ‘Jules’ and Cornelius catch up and share a few laughs. Tournament organizer and family friend David McGee and Brian… Brian and his family…

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