TRUCKEE, Calif. (KOLO) - In the last decade since football legend Gene Upshaw’s sudden death from pancreatic cancer in 2008, the Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund held with Tahoe Forest Health System Foundation has raised nearly $1.5 million for cancer and concussion research and helped fund vital programs and services for patients at the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center. Terri Upshaw, Gene Upshaw’s wife, started the fund at Tahoe Forest Health System Foundation because of the "outstanding quality of care her husband received at Tahoe Forest Hospital and the extraordinary dedication of the hospital staff to patient care and family services."
The memory of Gene Upshaw is still a draw, not only for the people who knew him, but also athletes who admire Upshaw’s lifetime contributions and the causes his legacy is helping. On July 8-9, National Football League Hall of Famers, former Major League Baseball players and other sports and entertainment celebrities will gather at Schaffer’s Mill Golf & Lake Club for the 10th annual Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic.
Tournament staples returning this year include NFL Hall of Famers Marcus Allen, Tim Brown, and Mike Haynes, along with former Raiders head coach Tom Flores, and former NFL players Herm Edwards, Raymond Chester, and Sam McCullum. This is the fourth consecutive year, Schaffer’s Mill will be the presenting sponsor.
Other celebrity commitments to-date include Cy Young winner and MLB former pitcher Vida Blue, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, Alex Carter, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, and NHL Washington Capitals right winger T.J. Oshie. Joining the field of 30 sports celebrities is previous golf classic champion, actor Kevin Sorbo of "Hercules: The Legendary Journals."
Terri Upshaw started the golf classic in 2009 to continue her husband’s memory and help the rural hospital that cared for Upshaw in his final days. A National Football League Hall of Famer and executive director of the NFL Players Association, Upshaw’s name is now intertwined in the lives of many in the mountain town of Truckee, Calif., his second home for 30 years.
“I think Gene would be proud of the work we have done and the people we have helped,” Terri Upshaw said. “For the families having to deal with a cancer diagnosis the cancer center is doing incredible work, and for the fund to support that work and make their experience, perhaps, a little easier, is a good thing.”
Proceeds from the 2017 tournament helped fund breakthrough technology in mammograms for area patients with the purchase of 3D mammography equipment, which is helping to improve breast cancer detection rates. The fund raised a total of $205,006 in 2017. Money also was given to further the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research’s mild traumatic brain injury diagnosis project. This project is attempting to develop a simple, portable, self-contained sideline diagnostic system for the identification of mTBI.
The tournament format features one sports celebrity and four amateurs on each team playing a Shamble format. Social gatherings include receptions and a VIP pairings party with a decidedly Bay Area infused sports memorabilia auction at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.
The tournament invites corporate sponsors and individuals looking to be aligned with concussion and cancer research. A limited number of sponsorships is still available. Each provides celebrity accessibility, company exposure and client entertainment. For more information, please contact the Tahoe Forest Health System Foundation at 530-582-6329 or email Martha Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Practice rounds begin Sunday, July 8, followed by a private VIP pairings party at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Tournament play is Monday, July 9, with a 9:30 a.m. shotgun start followed by an afternoon awards reception.
Registration, sponsorship opportunities, volunteer inquiries and a full list of participating celebrities can be viewed on the event site. Sponsors receive playing spots in the tournament and the opportunity to meet and spend time with players from the Oakland Raiders Super Bowl winning teams of the 1970s and ‘80s, five-star lodging, VIP tickets to the private pairings party, gift bags, and recognition on all program materials and releases.
Sponsors of this year’s event include aforementioned presenting sponsor Schaffer’s Mill Golf & Lake Club; foundation sponsors: Professional Athletes Foundation, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe; Legacy sponsors: NEPC, LLC; shirt sponsor, Oakland Raiders; and hat, golf towel, golf ball, and water bottle sponsors, Dorfman Pacific, Sirius Healthcare, Silver Legacy Resort and Casino, El Dorado Resort and Casino, and Envision Physician Services.
Upshaw was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. He played offensive guard for the Oakland Raiders for 15 years, becoming the first player in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl in three different decades. Upshaw played in six Pro Bowls and was ranked No. 62 on The Sporting News’ list of 100 Greatest Football Players in 1999.
In honor of Upshaw’s contributions to college and pro football, NCAA Division II established a lineman of the year award in his name in 2004. The award is annually presented during the weekend of the NCAA Division II Championship. After being an active member of the NFL Players’ Association bargaining committee as a player, Upshaw became executive director in 1983 and served in that role for 25 years until his death.
In addition to honoring Upshaw’s legacy through the fund, the family remains fervent about humanitarianism: providing quality medical treatment and care not only for patients but their families, sustainability, medical technology advancement as well as funding for medical research in critical areas such as traumatic brain injury.