The Fire Pit Foundation
What started with one high school team in Ohio has grown into a non-profit to give back to young golfers in need
By Ryan French
“I want to start a foundation, and I’ll give you $100,000 to start it.”
What are you supposed to say to something like that? Thank you isn’t nearly enough. I stumbled all over myself. That is how our charitable foundation began. With me stuttering. Now we are proud to announce that the Fire Pit Foundation is live.
Chris Gallagher, the man who is donating the $100,000, was introduced to the game by his father but lost both of his parents when he was a young man. He told me he wanted to give back to a game that has given him so much. We talked about how to achieve that, and we thought that helping high school teams was the best way. My Twitter followers have already helped me do this a few times, Now we are going to take it to another level. We’re calling that effort Drive Fore the Future.
Chris and I talked about how the game has taught us so much. It was on a golf course where we both learned to shake hands and talk to people we had just met. We learned about honesty and etiquette. We aren’t starting this foundation to help a kid hit a knock-down wedge; we are creating it because we believe the things learned on the golf course become essential life skills. We want to help schools where the game isn’t accessible. Every kid in the student body at Harvey High School in Painesville, Ohio, one of the golf teams we helped last year, is on free breakfast and lunch plans. Most of the players were using old, borrowed clubs. This year, with all new gear, one of the kids won a regional for the first time in the school’s history. These are the kind of teams we want to help.
Andrew Eubank, the athletic director at Westville High School in Indiana, said there had never been as much interest in the golf program than after word got out we were helping the team. He had sent me pictures of the “golf room” at the school. It was filled with red-stripe range balls and clubs from the 1980s. By the end of the fundraising efforts—donors included an NFL All-Pro quarterback and people from the Detroit Tigers—the players had everything they needed, including sweet golf bags donated by Stitch and countless clubs. It was so rewarding to watch the video and talk with Eubank. It is surreal that we now have a foundation to help many more teams.
Our goal is not to help teams just once—we will develop relationships for them with equipment and clothing companies so team needs can be addressed. A generous clothing company has come on board to help (we will announce details at a later date), and Sub70 has agreed to donate clubs at cost. I can’t thank them enough.
We will be looking for monetary donations along with gently used equipment. You can donate here. (This link is also where teams can apply for assistance; please pass it along to anyone in need.)
The San Diego Foundation, a nonprofit organization, will oversee all the money that is donated. It runs multiple charities across the country, including foundations for large corporations. Their service fee to us is just 1.5 percent. You can find their story here.
There will be a board of directors for the Fire Pit Foundation, but only as advisers to make sure we stay financially stable. Chris and I have never run a foundation, so we need a little help. The board is filled with people who have done this before. Chris and I will make all of the decisions about whom to help.
Also, I want to ensure everyone that not a single dollar from the foundation will be paid to anyone at the Fire Pit Collective as a salary. If you have any questions about how the money is being used, please feel free to email or DM me.
Most of all, I want to thank all of you who have made this possible. I am just the moderator; it is the readers and followers whose generosity is helping these teams. I am the lucky one because I get to talk to the coaches, kids and parents we have helped. We look forward to helping many more teams in the years ahead. I can’t wait to get going.
To donate or to submit a request for assistance, visit firepitcollective.com/fire-pit-foundation.
Ryan and Chris discuss the foundation in Episode 33 of the Any Given Monday podcast.