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Maris tournament has faith in the future

Fargo’s Roger Maris broke the major league single-season home run record in 1961 when he hit 61 home runs. Forum file photo

Fargo - Between 2001 and 2011, the Roger Maris Celebrity Benefit Golf Tournament did not have to dip into its assets in order to donate money to Fargo Shanley High School, the hospice of the Red River Valley and the Roger Maris Cancer Center as much as it did in 2012.

According to tax forms, the organization gave a total of $110,000 away in 2012 despite revenue of $107,697 and expenses of $113,804. Also, it was the first time this century the tournament’s donations – excluding additional expenses – to Shanley, the hospice and the cancer center were more than its revenue.

Treasurer Sandy Goughnour said there is nothing to worry about.

“We’ve never felt anything like we’ve been losing ground with the tournament at all,” Goughnour said. “When you look at it, our golf is what we make our money on. All the golfers, that’s our huge revenue. We fill up so fast with teams that we could probably run it another day and still fill it. We have to turn people away.”

Between 2001 and 2012, the benefit has had more money in expenses than revenue six times, but the worst negative differential prior to the $6,107 in 2012 was $2,089 in 2007. From 2010 to 2012, the average revenue for the Maris benefit was $107,195, down from the previous four-year average of $134,879.

According to Goughnour, there are intricacies every year for charitable foundations in which a little change could be a big difference in revenue.

“Last year was our 30-year anniversary, so we had special events, so we may have a lot more expenses,” Goughnour said. “We did the 25th anniversary and we brought in the people that did the movie ‘61*’ and we had Billy Crystal here and we had Bob Costas and we don’t pay to have celebrities, but we pay their hotels and airfare, and that can vary each year. Even the weather can play a part in the money we make.”

According to Jodi Kelsch, the accountant that handles the tournament’s tax forms at Kelsch, Kriz & Associates PC, the 2013 forms are not ready yet. Regardless, the golf tournament board’s chairwoman Tami Llewellyn was adamant the tournament was not even close to feeling any type of pressure.

“We have no financial worries,” Llewellyn said. “We are one of the longest celebrity tournaments that runs in this country. Everything that we take in, we give out, except for a slush fund of about $2,000. The golf tournament is not going anywhere. If anything, it’s getting stronger. My dad started the tournament, and we now have second-generation chair people in it, so it’s not going anywhere.”

In comparison, the Cullen’s Children Foundation, which was founded by Nashville Predators center and former Moorhead High School hockey player Matt Cullen, averaged $343,347.25 in revenue as compared to $184,124.25 in expenses from 2005-12.

Llewellyn pointed out that the comparison isn’t exactly fair.

“There is no comparison because he’s got a lot deeper pockets and a lot younger crew,” Llewellyn said. “What he’s doing for this community is amazing, and it’s great that two charity tournaments can survive in a community this size. We’re definitely a smaller tournament, but we’re definitely doing well.”

Llewellyn pointed to the second generation taking over the board. Goughnour said the first generation isn’t going anywhere either.

“We’re a bunch of old farts that have been doing this for so long in some capacity,” Goughnour said. “We know that hospice really depends on money like that. Right now, we’re still plugging along, and as long as Pat Maris wants to do it and their family wants to do it, we’re all willing to as well.”

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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