- Stan Awtrey The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The capital building campaign at the Special Needs School of Gwinnett got a boost on Wednesday when the PGA Tour Champions named it as the Charity of the Year.
The Lawrenceville school provides educational and therapeutic programs for special needs students from ages two through adult. The charity, a beneficiary of the annual Mitsubishi Electric Classic, received a $30,000 donation from the PGA Tour Champions and plans to use the funds to help fund the next phase of its construction.
“To our school, $30,000 is huge. That’s a lot of money,” said Susie Collat, vice-chair of the Special Needs School of Gwinnett. “Our base is very challenged, so $30,000 goes a long way and it will go a long way toward our capital campaign.”
The school currently serves 52 students, with 40 on the waiting list. The new building planned in the next phase of construction will cost between $1.5-2.4 million and will house 70 students.
The Special Needs School is one of several recipients of money raised by the Mitsubishi Electric Classic. The annual tournament, conducted at TPC Sugarloaf the week after the Masters, has raised more than $2 million for charity in its first five years.
Mitsubishi tournament director Monte Ortel said, “To be recognized as Charity of the Year is a great honor for our tournament, but more important is the positive impact the Tour’s $30,000 donation will have on the Special Needs School and the marvelous work they are doing in the community.”
PGA Tour Champions president Greg McLaughlin flew in to make the presentation. He recognized the unique nature of the school and why it was selected.
“What was appealing was the work they were doing,” McLaughlin said. “There are a lot of good programs and they made a compelling argument. They’re very unique in the work they’re doing.”
The PGA Tour has always taken great pride in the amount of money it gives to charity, reported to be in excess of $5 billion since 1968. The three branches of the PGA Tour combined to give $160 million to charity from its 125 sponsored events last season.
“There are 27 events on (the Champions) Tour and there are hundreds of charities they give money to,” McLaughlin said. “To be recognized as one is special for them. It’s challenging to raise funds in any environment. Hopefully it helps them.”