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IMHO: Parker losing a lot with this fundraiser

  • Greg Fennell. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 10/26/2019 9:30:58 PM
Modified: 10/26/2019 10:30:30 PM

Rich Parker’s fundraisers have always been built around an element of gain for all involved. Participants enjoy a day of golf, or a good meal, or the chance to bid on prizes, or fellowship. And, as Parker has over the years, they also gain the feeling of having done something good and meaningful for someone else.

Parker — the longtime Dartmouth College men’s golf coach, former professional golfer and ongoing weekend radio yakker — is at it again. But this time, there’s an element of loss to this latest charitable effort.

Tied into raising money for the veterans’ fuel assistance fund overseen by Lebanon’s Guyer-Carignan American Legion Post 22, Parker’s Nov. 2 pub crawl — dubbed Buzz Crawl after his radio show — is also helping him get back in shape. At the pace he’s going, the 60-year-old Parker could top 40 pounds lost by the time the pub crawl buses head out on the big day.

“When I started, it was to lose 40 pounds in nine weeks,” Parker told me recently. “Out of the gate, the first three weeks, I lost 18 pounds. No alcohol for nine weeks, no bread, you know the drill. I still exercised like always on an elliptical bike, but that 18 pounds was like throwing a paper clip off the Titanic. It was nothing.

“That fourth week, I lost only 2 pounds. I spent 10 days at Firestone (Country Club, in Ohio) with the team; they had the best food, but I was watching what I’d eat. I got discouraged, so at practice I walked instead of riding a cart. Got on the scale; I’d lost 7 pounds. I’m back. It’s emotional.”

That’s exactly how Parker’s fundraisers are, because they’re pointed toward the people who often need the most help.

For about two decades, Parker ran the Greenie, a money-making golf tournament named in memory of a lost friend. Usually centered at Lebanon’s Carter Country Club, participants poured in donations to play the course, enjoy good food and drink, bid in auctions and enjoy one another’s company. The tourney kept growing until Parker, concerned he was tapping the same donors too often, decided to end it four years ago.

The Post 22 fuel fund had become a beneficiary by then. A couple of Parker’s friends suggested turning the retired golf tournament into a pub crawl. By putting two and two together, Parker now had a new conduit for helping others. Instead of concentrating on the work of hosting the tourney — no simple feat that was becoming a grind toward the end, he said — he could instead call sponsors or round up auction items and focus on bringing in the most money possible.

“It’s a very controlled pub crawl,” Parker said. “It’s basically a bunch of people who don’t see each other but once or twice a year who gather up and have the funnest time. It’s the best day of the year, aside from Christmas.”

It’s also been invaluable to the fund.

Pete St. Pierre, Post 22’s club manager, said the Legion started the fuel fund in 2013, helped by Greenie proceeds. Any veteran in need can apply for help by contacting Post 22 for an application, then describe the situation and provide a copy of their discharge papers. A check for $500 — or sometimes $1,000, in acute cases — follows.

The fund currently sits at around $20,000, St. Pierre said. It’s helped about 100 veterans in its six years of existence to purchase oil and propane, fix boilers, buy pellet stoves and fill any other heating need.

“It’s not just local,” St. Pierre said last week. “We’ve had veterans all the way from Troy, N.H., to Concord, to Plymouth, to Burlington. We had someone on welfare we helped in Montpelier. We put out our applications here and at the VA (in White River Junction). That’s where it spreads a little bit. …

“It’s really for a good cause. He’s worked hard at it and had a lot of fun doing it. We’re grateful.”

Parker’s weight-loss initiative came out of back pain and a wisecrack. Leaving one of his son Trey’s Legion baseball games last summer, an old softball buddy said he needed to “take care of that third chin,” Parker recalled. “I was some pissed.”

These days, a PO’d Parker is a motivated Parker. He won’t reveal his weight, either before or after, but it’s easy to spot the pounds lost if you see Parker regularly.

In a Thursday text, Parker said he’d just done what he called a “master cleanse” — I don’t think I want to know the details, although it supposedly involved “cayenne, maple syrup and lemons,” he said last week — that added another 7 pounds to his pile of loss. He’s at 36 pounds down with a week to go before the crawl.

A number of people have tied their donations to his weight-loss efforts. One person on the crawl’s private Facebook page has offered $25 per pound lost. Multiply that by 40 pounds and … well, you do the math.

About 90 people are expected to take part in the crawl, boarding two school buses that will travel two different routes before uniting for an evening after-party at Post 22. Parker has accumulated auction items that include a signed Tom Brady football helmet, an autographed Jason Witten jersey (“for all the crazy Cowboy fans around here,” he texted on Friday), signed golf flags from Keegan Bradley, Tiger Woods and John Daly, and a variety of items from Upper Valley merchants and friends.

Parker started with a goal this time of $6,000 to $8,000. He was at $16,000 by the end of last week. Reaching $20,000 is entirely possible.

It’s enough to make a guy feel light on his feet — and not simply because there are 40 fewer pounds for him to carry.

“The weight loss is irrelevant to me; it’s not about me,” Parker said. “The big part is that we’re going to fill up a ton of oil tanks and propane tanks and buy pellet stoves and pellets for those who need them. … This isn’t just a little valley; this has expanded. It’s a big thing for people. It’s important.

“This is our way of paying back. Everyone can reach into their pockets; we have enough to help people. That’s the way it is.”

Email Parker at uppervalleybuzz@gmail.com for more information. Checks may also be made out to American Legion Post 22 and dropped off at the post’s club on Mechanic Street in Lebanon.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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