In July 2009, Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder grabbed a mic and addressed a packed crowd inside Kite’s Bar and Grill.
“I want to insure you that we will make this something really, really special over a period of time,” Snyder said in 2009. “And we will get everyone back.”
Just five years later, the Wildcat Legends for Charity event has grown and continues to grow even bigger.
Friday night’s dinner was nearly double the crowd from last year’s event at the K-State Alumni Center, while Saturday’s golf tournament — at the Manhattan Country Club — had so many groups that they had to bring in extra golf carts.
The foursome of Brent Bayer, Hank Bayer, Dan Sparks, Bernie Haney and Matt Walters won the 22-team tournament Saturday — shooting a 56.
Eric Gallon, Jeff Bloomer, Tyler Boxberger and Fred Czerwonka were second with a 56 as well, while Jon McGraw, Nick Warren, Dan Demory and John Robertson were third with at 57.
The event started as a way to raise money for the No Stone Unturned Foundation, started by former K-State offensive lineman Eric Wolford (1989-92) and his wife Melinda, after they learned their son, Stone, had Cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome, or CFC Syndrome.
CFC Syndrome is a rare and serious genetic disorder that affects the heart, lungs, and often carries neurological disorders as well.
Now, the event also aides the No Stone Unturned Therapeutic Learning Center, which helps local children and families affected by CFC Syndrome, and other genetic and neurological disabilities.
For Wolford, it’s hard to describe how much the event has grown.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “When you think where we’ve come from, but Manhattan’s that kind of community. K-Staters are a lot alike in the fact that we come together to support what needs supported.”
This year’s event was the best-attended in the five-year history, and Wolford credits that to information getting out through the Manhattan community. Although it was initially designed to bring players back to Manhattan, Saturday’s golf tournament was packed with people from all over the Manhattan community.
“I think when you look at our committee — Mikeal Hodges, Dina Clark, Max Conde — they’re here on the home front and out in the community on a regular basis talking about it, and then I think people also see the center and the volume that’s going through the center on a monthly basis,” Wolford said. “That tells you that there’s a big time need for a lot of young people to get services in this community, and we’re glad that we can be a part of that.”
Former tight end Travis Tannahill (2009-12) said the event is a fun way to get former K-State players together for a good cause. He said he was amazed by the turnout for Friday’s dinner.
“To see the community come together like this for a good cause is awesome,” Tannahill said. “This event is fairly new in the grand scheme of things and just to see how much it’s grown — (Friday) night we were pushing the occupancy of the building — and still it just keeps on growing.”
Wolford said they’ve enjoyed using the Alumni Center the last few years, but acknowledged they have already outgrown it. He said they will likely start exploring new options in the next few weeks for next summer’s get-together.
“We were full,” he said of Friday night. “The Alumni Center is awesome, but we were jammed in there.”
Although the event originally started in favor of his charity foundation, Wolford said he takes no pride in how much it has grown.
“It’s not about me,” Wolford said. “A lot of people always say ‘Wolf this was a great idea’ — it’s not me, it’s all of us. We all have a stake in this thing in some way. We’re all invested in something in it. Our goal is just to continue to grow this thing so we can get all of the services we need for this community.
“We’re continuing to expand. How big can we get? I don’t know, but it’s growing fast.”
It was Tannahill’s first time taking part in the weekend, but he said he’d be keeping an eye on the date for the future.
“From now on I’ll keep this weekend free,” he said. “It’s a pretty good time. It’s just great to see everyone. It gives everyone an excuse to get back to Manhattan.”