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No Zach, no problem at 2021 Zach Johnson Foundation Classic fundraiser in Cedar Rapids
Johnson recovering from COVID-19, but his Foundation Classic still raised $800,000 for Cedar Rapids youth
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Zach Johnson Foundation Classic is held at a country club on Zach Johnson Drive NE that features a statue of Johnson.
But can you hold a ZJFC without Johnson himself? Yes, and such was the case Monday at Elmcrest Country Club. About $800,000 was raised from this year’s event, with the proceeds going to the Kids On Course program founded by Zach and Kim Johnson and nurtured by many other Cedar Rapidians over the last decade.
“It’s so much bigger than Zach,” his wife, Kim Johnson, said Monday. It was the same basic thing Zach told guests at his annual gala the night before, via a video filmed in the basement of his parents’ Cedar Rapids home.
That’s where Johnson spent the last two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19 following his final round of the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill. It kept the 2015 British Open champion from proceeding to that event.
The question many have asked since then is whether Johnson, 45, was vaccinated for the virus. It’s an answer he has opted not to publicly share for now, and Kim requested not to be asked about it before she was interviewed Monday.
“He was never scary sick in the whole process,” Kim said. “He felt miserable, but there was never any point that we were in doubt with his recovery. He’s just had to get better.
“We certainly recognize that is not the case for everyone who gets this virus, and we’re incredibly grateful that has been the case for him.”
Kim and her husband were to head east Monday night. They live in Sea Island, Ga. Zach hasn’t been near his children in three weeks.
She said he’s planning to resume his golf schedule Aug. 12-15 at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C. That’s the week before the FedExCup playoffs start.
The top 125 players in the FedExCup point standings qualify for the first playoff tournament. Johnson is 103rd.
After a 2020 with a virtual gala and no golf event, the 2021 ZJFC was almost normal even without its namesake. Fans weren’t admitted this year. But 19 golfers from the PGA and Korn Ferry tours were present to join foursomes who paid handsomely for the chance to play with the pros.
People still bid on and paid handsomely for prize packages auctioned at the annual gala the night before the golfing.
The ZJFC debuted 10 years ago, and hasn’t waned in its ability to raise funds for Kids On Course, which offers tutoring, mentoring, summer learning and other forms of student-enrichment for in-need students. Over 70 percent of the students it serves across eight Cedar Rapids schools are at the poverty level.
Kids on Course has done immeasurable good in a city that, like all others, needs all the help it can get. The second-graders the program worked with in 2011 are entering their senior years of high school. Many have much-better chances of continuing their educations and are better equipped to do so than they otherwise would have been.
Johnson hasn’t lived in Cedar Rapids for about 20 years, yet he has never stopped living here. Charity events can have short shelf lives, but his has been a constant so far.
“It makes sense to do something big in the community that raised Zach,” Kim Johnson said. “It’s pretty fantastic. The support of this community is unbelievable.
“Even last year with the virtual gala, the way people came through for that. People have their hearts in the right place about everything and it makes it so much easier.
“This is fun and a great event and we love coming out and everyone has a great time, but wow, we’re also doing something incredible. It’s actually moving the needle. This is tangible.”
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