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Annual event raises tens of thousands for local veterans in Santa Maria

Posted at 8:31 AM, Nov 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-12 17:13:36-05

It was a night of golf, food, and fun aimed at helping local veterans in Santa Maria for the second annual “Tee it up for Veterans” event.

Organizers expect to raise $80,000 to $90,000 for two local non-profits that help veterans on a daily basis.

A sizeable crowd of veterans and their families gathered at the Santa Maria Country Club on Friday to raise money for fellow veterans.

“We do this today because we do Veterans Day every day of the week. We’re out rescuing vets and helping families,” said Steven Baird, president and co-founder of Band of Brothers.

The event was a chance to come together, enjoy each other’s company and simply have a good time.

“This is the stuff we do to laugh, we need to laugh, we need to have fun. We know how to be serious but it’s time for us to relax,” said Baird.

The event started with an afternoon of golfing leading up to a dinner and fundraising auction for two local non-profits: Welcome Home Military Heroes and Band of Brothers.

The nonprofits hold welcome home ceremonies and sporting events for veterans.

“We go through a lot and this type of event allows us to go out, have fun and enjoy each other while also raising money for the two organizations,” said veteran and organizer Robert Tolan.

Then, came the awards.

June Kester was named Patriot of the Year for her work as a board member of Honor Flight Central Coast.

“We had an individual randomly show up to our office and just randomly hand us a book. It was a Korean War veteran. It was a bunch of photos and decorations,” said Tolan. “He was a POW for a year and a half in North Korea, a Purple Heart recipient, literally just dropped it on our doorstep and asked us to find the family. June Kester, I called her and within 24 hours I get a call from the daughter of that veteran.”

Dennis Hennessy, a Vietnam veteran who works for Vietnam Veterans of America, was awarded Veteran of the Year.