Golf tournament surpasses half a million

VIENNA -Dave Couch and Larry Edwards may or may not have ever crossed paths, but both gentlemen were discussed in high regard for their contributions to the community during Friday’s 14th annual Dave Couch Golf Tournament.

The event raises funds to find a cure for ALS – otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease claimed the life of Couch in December 2001, while Edwards lost his fight with the illness in November 2013.

This year’s contribution of $36,000 moved the grand total since the tournament’s inception above half a million dollars. The Parkersburg South girls basketball program donated $3,000 in memory of Edwards, who served as an assistant coach with the Patriots.

“It goes without saying that Lou Gehrig’s disease tends to rob a community of the best and brightest,” said Dave Couch’s son, Blair. “Larry Edwards was certainly a kind gentleman who really loved athletics and dedicated a big part of his life to helping others.

“This event gives people like the Parkersburg South girls basketball program an outlet. We have some resources that we can point them to the right direction.”

Frank Northrup, who was a close friend of Dave Couch, said a few words during the awards banquet and had to hold back the tears when describing several fond memories. Six months before Couch died, he joined Northrup and several others on a trip to a Cleveland Indians game. One joke in particular had the men unable to control their laughter.

“Dave battled ALS for two years – he never gave in and he never quit,” Northrup said.

Blair Couch will never forget that final year and a half after his father was diagnosed with ALS. His family lived under the same roof with his mother and father. Blair Couch’s oldest son, Will, was a toddler during that period while his second son, Jamie, was born 10 days before his grandfather died.

“There was a lot of laughter at that house,” Blair Couch said. “We watched a ton of funny movies. We had good days and bad days. By far, the good days outnumbered the bad days.”

Both boys participated with handing out awards.

“The only connection they have to him other than vague memories or pictures in a photo album is to see this kind of outpouring,” Blair Couch said. “I hope it means something to them.”

A total of 36 foursomes competed in a modified scramble. This type of response by the community touched one committee member in particular. John Heathcock, who moved his family from Texas to the Mid-Ohio Valley last year witnessed first-hand the tragedy ALS causes. His mother, Phyllis Heathcock, died from the illness six years ago.

“This is emotional, but one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever done,” John Heathcock said. “ALS is a dreadful disease, but to see 36 groups of guys coming out for one cause helped me because I saw how they celebrated Dave’s life. They didn’t dwell on his passing.

“I’m going home and thinking about this tonight.”

The format of the tournament was a modified scramble. Winning the ‘A’ flight were Dan Garber, Marion Cunningham, Brian Lamp and Gary Brightwell. In ‘B’ flight, first place went to Richard Adams, Bernie Garrett, Butch Shaver and Hap Esbenshade.

Contributions may be made to support the fund and its work to combat ALS by sending them to the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation at P.O. Box 1762, Parkersburg W.Va. 26102-1762 or online at pacfwv.com.