Golfing for a cause

The goal was more than just making par Monday at the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club, where golfers took to the course to raise money for two local non-profit organizations.

The Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Support Group/Desi Geestman Golf Classic attracted about 80 participants, many of them foothill residents and business owners who support the tournament on an annual basis.

"We like to participate because it supports two great causes that are important to our family," said Pete Smith, of Bob Smith Toyota.

The event was launched 27 years ago by the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Support Group, which serves as a liaison between law enforcement and local residents, to generate funds for the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station, said Chairman Rick Dinger. Last year it was expanded to also benefit the La Crescenta-based Desi Geestman Foundation, which provides financial and emotional support to families with a child who has cancer.

The money raised, typically about $15,000, is split evenly between the two organizations, Dinger said.

Ileana Geestman, founder of the Desi Geestman Foundation, said the funds will help cover medication, transportation and housing costs for families who have children undergoing cancer treatment. The foundation is named for Geestman's daughter, Desi, who was diagnosed with cancer in 1997 and later died.

"We formed [the foundation] to help the quality of life for children with cancer," Geestman said. "We don't raise money for research, we help the families directly, whether financially or emotionally."

At the CV Sheriff's Station, the money raised has been used to purchase tools, practice dummies, audio recorders, vehicles and a mobile command post, as well as to build an emergency operation center.

"The money goes to a great cause," said Sheriff's Capt. David Silversparre, commander of the CV Sheriff's Station. "And the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station is certainly very pleased to receive the funding, especially at a time when things are so lean."

Last year, funds went toward two Suzuki dirt bike motorcycles and a trailer that have already been used to search for burglary suspects and manage evacuations in La Cañada. And officials expect the motorcycles will play a critical role in the coming years as emergency responders continue to face the threat of dangerous debris flows in the Station fire burn areas.

"After the fire was the rains, which washed rocks down on the roadway," said Dep. Jeff Martin. "So you can't drive the vehicles on them. We can go around them on the motorcycles."

The tournament and the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Support Group give community members the opportunity to make the foothills a great place to live, Dinger said.

"The better the tools our law enforcement have, the safer our community is," Dinger said. "Raising a family and running businesses, it behooves us all to have a safe community."

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