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Two forms of entertainment have skyrocketed in popularity above almost all others during the pandemic: Golf and true crime stories.
Sadly, the two combined this past December when a major burglary took place at the Fairmount Park Golf Course in Riverside.
Recently the SCGA’s own Player & Youth Development Director, Kaycee Wilke, started her Saturday morning the same as usual. In order to prepare for another day of helping local girls and boys enjoy affordable access to golf, instruction, and mentorship opportunities, Kaycee headed to the course’s 10’ x 10’ metal storage container—filled with clubs and fitness equipment belonging to the SCGA Junior Golf Foundation. But instead of finding the unit secure, the lock was pried open. And nearly everything was gone.
“I just stood there looking into the empty equipment shed and my heart sank,” Wilke said. “More than shock or pain, I felt a deep sense of loss. Loss for the kids.”
What really is lost in a crime like this? Beyond what is listed on any police report or itemized on an insurance claim, what is the lasting price when time and a sense of security are robbed from children? How do you value a theft like this when things can change so rapidly, for good or for bad, in a young person’s life?
Ms. Wilke doesn’t know what type of person would steal from a child—let alone from thousands of those registered in SCGA Junior’s various player development programs throughout Southern California. But, thankfully, she now knows the exact kind of people who would lend a helping hand to strangers when it is most needed.
Right after the break-in was discovered Kaycee and her fiancé, Wil Mayo, made an impassioned plea on Instagram. The couple’s goal was simple: Raise funds and awareness to help replace the thousands of dollars of stolen items. With just one hundred words and a single photo of the crime scene a negative was turned into a resounding positive as their post set out to “…restock this shed with more and better equipment than was in there before (and buy stronger locks).”
In just two hours Wilke and Mayo hit their $5,000 fundraising target for the SCGA Junior Golf Foundation. Soon, that number was wildly exceeded.
Support first came from friends and fellow SCGA employees. Then from SCGA clubs including the Tropicana Players Club in Glendora and Babes Golf out of San Diego, and The Foremat out of LA.
Pros like LPGA stars Lizette Salas and Cheyenne Woods donated online—plus even gave clubs and bags. Bespoke apparel and equipment brands, Cushman Custom Golf, Metalwood Studio, Palm Golf, Short Game Gains, Public Drip, Sugarloaf Social Club and Blue Tees Golf were soon joined by major industry-player TaylorMade and Good Walk Coffee Co.
Fellow non-profits Southern California PGA Foundation as well as Riverside’s Downtown Area Neighborhood Association pitched in. As did national social media influencer Roger Steele all the way from Chicago.
Through their combined assistance it was case closed for Restock Riverside.
True crime documentaries such as This is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist routinely crack the top 10 on streaming services such as Netflix. And, as of this writing, Crime Junkie sits atop Apple Podcasts’ list of most-downloaded shows in the United States. Such “whodunits” often involve complex plots filled with twists and turns. The audience is led through a puzzle of interlocking intrigues by a professional (Lieutenant Columbo), amateur (Nancy Drew), or even a bumbling detective (Frank Drebin from TV’s Police Squad! and The Naked Gun movies). Ultimately the identity of the master criminal is unmasked along with their motives.
What took place at the Fairmount Park Golf Course is a different type of story. Less real crime. More real philanthropy.
The prime suspects? The Riverside Police Department lead by Chief Larry Gonzalez. (The force’s quick response and help beefing up security ensure this crime will not be repeated.)
Over one hundred individual and corporate donors who instantly provided a fairytale ending to the SCGA Junior Golf Foundation in their hour—or two—of need. Plus readers of this story, months after the incident took place, who understand the ongoing need to provide affordable access to all youth in Southern California.
“Seeing this outpouring of support for SCGA Junior from both the local and national golf community reinforces why my team and I are out on the course with the kids day after day,” Wilke said. “It’s the right thing to do. The Foundation means so much right now plus it means so much to golf’s future. Together we can all grow the game we love.”