AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP | With donations at stake, charities are rooting for amateur players |

AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP | With donations at stake, charities are rooting for amateur players

Roseann Keegan

Roseann Keegan / Tahoe Daily TribuneFrom left, Emily Browning, 7, Eithan Barshears, 6, Janeth Hernandez, 6, and Alexis Rojas, 6, show off the new computer equipment at the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – No offense to the professional golfers, but local charities will be rooting for the amateur players this week during the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe.

That’s because the amateur players, including top contender Tony Romo, will donate their share of the $600,000 prize purse to local charities and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the official charity of the championship.

“We wish (Romo) much success this year,” said Diane Weidinger, director of Bread & Broth, a soup kitchen and food pantry at St. Theresa Catholic Church.

A player cannot accept prize money in order to maintain amateur status, enabling them to qualify for other events. Prize money from amateur golfers in 2009 was pooled and shared with three South Lake Tahoe organizations: Bread & Broth, the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe and Tahoe Youth & Family Services. Each charity received $30,000.

The remainder of the winnings was divided among other South Lake Tahoe nonprofit organizations, with more than $3 million given to national and local charities since the tournament’s inception in 1990.

Last year’s donation to Bread & Broth helped the nonprofit continue its “Second Serving” program on Fridays at Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church through a lean fall and winter.

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“With the additional money, we were able to ride out the storm and improve that program,” Weidinger said.

Bread & Broth was also able to update its 30-year-old kitchen with a cooking island – rather than cooking on the low dinner table that came from the convent years ago – as well as expand its food pantry to two days per week, in addition to the Monday and Friday hot meal service.

Jon Miller, executive vice president of NBC Sports, said the players are eager to give back to the community.

“All these players have been very fortunate to come to this place, and they want to give back to the community with money and resources,” Miller said. “That’s always going to be a big focus.”

Tahoe Youth & Family Services provides professional and low-cost help for youth and families experiencing homelessness, alcohol and drug use and teen pregnancy. With offices in South Lake Tahoe and Gardnerville, the nonprofit used a portion of the $30,000 to purchase a used Chevy Silverado 1500 for navigating the Kingsbury Grade during winter months. The remainder of the funds is set aside for a four-wheel drive van for transporting clients to appointments and volunteers to outreach locations.

“We’re still shopping for a van,” said Julie Franklin, communications coordinator for Tahoe Youth & Family Services. “We need something with as much room as we can get.”

At the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, a computer room is starting to take shape. Boxes of monitors, towers, printers and cords are stacked against a wall, awaiting the a volunteer technician who will soon arrive to set up the room.

With its $30,000 check, the club was able to bring technology to the youth who frequent the after-school program. The South Lake Tahoe site will join Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide to participate in Club Tech, a national program that makes technology, software and training accessible to youth.

“It was awesome,” said Karen Houser, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe. “(The lab) is closing the gap with a lot of these kids.”