Golf, Friendship Changes One Young Man’s Life
Chi Chi’s Academy Prepares Students for the Game of Life
It all started when Chi Chi Rodriguez came to Florida to give a golf clinic to the youngsters at a juvenile detention center at the invitation of Bill Hayes, a concerned teacher, golfer and part-time detention officer. That’s when the pair came up with an idea for helping disadvantaged kids. They enlisted the help of Raymond James Financial, Inc. founder Bob James and created a foundation to start a school that would help kids succeed through golf. Sean Frommé must be just the kid they had in mind.
Sean was referred to the Chi Chi Foundation Academy in fifth grade. The Academy is a Pinellas County Public Partnership School program that operates at Chi Chi’s Golf Course in Clearwater. Until he started at the Academy, Sean had never touched a club, but he got the chance to participate in golf lessons as part of his Physical Education classes there. Golf soon became the incentive that not only kept him in school but also helped him to succeed.
One of the goals of the Chi Chi Academy is to help kids like Sean get a good education and to prepare them to be able to enter their regular high school when they graduate fromeighth grade. Once Sean discovered golf, keeping up with his studies was just a way to be able to get out on the course. For Sean, golf was something he truly loved, and he kept working on his game at every opportunity. He has improved so much that as a sophomore at Palm Harbor University High School, he is a member of the varsity golf team. In fact, this year he posted two consecutive rounds of 69 at Cypress Run in the team qualifying.
Gaining a New Friend
Golf was just a part of the big change that Sean underwent while at Chi Chi’s. The other major factor was the interest and support shown by Chi Chi Academy Board member Jessica Majeski. Jessica got her big break through golf, too. She worked as a caddy at the Red Run Golf Club in Royal Oak, Mich. (near Detroit) and won a Chick Evans Scholarship to attend the University of Michigan. The scholarship covered tuition and room and board. She now is a successful Financial Representative for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. For the past two or three years, she has been a national co-chair for fundraising from alumni and is the new national President of the Evans Scholar Alumni from the University of Michigan.
Although Jessica was involved in some charitable work in Tampa, she wanted to find something worthwhile to do a bit closer to home. She mentioned this to her friend. St. Petersburg artist T.W. Curtis. Knowing that golf had always been an important part of Jessica’s life, he suggested that she contact Chi Chi’s to find out about volunteer opportunities there.
She was immediately enlisted to serve as co-chairperson of the signature Chi Chi Charity Golf Classic, a role she has held for the last four years. For almost as long she has been a personal mentor for one of the Chi Chi students, none other than Sean Frommé. As their friendship grew, Jessica told Sean how he, too, could get an Evans Scholarship and go to college—maybe even play golf on his college team.
Setting New Goals