16th annual golf tournament honoring veterans and military families

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(ABC 6 News) – The 16th annual "Tee it up for the Troops" golf tournament took place in Rochester, honoring WW2 and the Korean war veterans, as well as Gold Star families.

A day filled with a lot of patriotism, inspiration and support, the Willow Creek golf course was lined with more than 2,000 flags. According to the committee, they could not have pulled the event off, without the help of the entire community.

The tournament kicked off with ex-navy seals parachuting onto the golf course from the sky. A very large crowd gathered to watch the spectacle.

For many of the tournament’s attendees, the event is cherished.

"People don’t understand unless they have been in the military or have had children serving or been a part of serving the country. It’s hard to understand what kind of sacrifices they make," said Tami Sawyer, a Blue Star mom. Her son has been serving in the military for almost two decades.

Veteran Derek Goodridge served multiple deployments throughout his military career. During his tour in Afghanistan, he was seriously injured after a bomb exploded.

"I was holding security for an EOD tech and unfortunately, he ended up stepping on one. Three of us got hurt that day, and I was one of the three," said Goodridge. He is a retired Sgt. with the Marine Corps.

Due to the injuries he sustained, he lost his arm and has had 40 surgeries since. Still, Goodridge thoroughly enjoys golfing and it has little impact on his killer swing. He says, it’s events like these, that make him feel like he is not alone.

"Coming to these events opens my eyes to actually see a lot of non-military members actually do support us, and the appreciation we receive or these organizations receive is amazing, like speechless" said Goodridge.

With 180 golfers and more than 500 people in attendance, the community was ready to help.

"We have a ton of volunteers, for instance MN Adult Teen Challenge helps put all of the American flags together. We’ve got the entire football team from Lourdes High School out here, we’ve got all the unions out here, I’m probably gonna miss somebody but we have so many volunteers throughout our community pulling together, for one cause," said Lynn Clarey, who serves as the chair for Tee it up for the Troops.

The reason the community put so much work into this event was to give back to the troops and their families.

"We’re just proud moms," said Sawyer, along with other Blue Star moms Melissa Skogen and Pauline Berg.

The funds donated through the event go to several national and local military and veteran service organizations.

According to Clarey, the tournament is already almost sold-out for next year.