Sports and entertainment celebrities gathered with local business owners at Innis Arden Golf Club for the 23rd Jerry Sr. Memorial Celebrity Golf Tournament. The tournament featured more than 20 celebrities who helped raise money for Abilis, a nonprofit organization that strives to aid people with developmental disabilities. One of the tournament's founders, Jerry Porricelli Jr., said he is always amazed at the celebrity turnout and the generosity to Abilis.
"There's always anticipation and nervousness, but it always seems to go off without a hitch." Porricelli said. "These celebrities come on their own time and expense. You see so many familiar faces, it's like a family reunion every year."
The featured sports celebrity was Tommy John, former New York Yankees pitcher and Bridgeport Bluefish manager. John said he forged a strong connection with Connecticut in his time with the Bluefish and said a round of golf for a good cause was all he needed to make the trip from his home in Dallas.
"I love to play golf. I'm a golf junkie," John said. "When I managed Bridgeport I would play on Sundays after games and I'd play until dark. So when you can team playing golf with raising awareness for charities like Abilis, I think it's our duty to come out and help people that are less fortunate."
Celebrities from several sports hit the links, including Norwalk boxing legend Travis Simms, former New York Giants defensive end Gary Jeter, and former 49ers and Packers lineman Gary Cooke.
"Man, I've got to get out my autograph book," Simms said, heading to his first hole. "I can't believe all the guys that are out here. It's great."
According to Abilis director of communications Joy Haenlein, the Jerry Sr. Tournament has raised nearly $1 million for local charities during its 23-year run.
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