FLORENCE — More than 100 women got a jump-start on their breast cancer awareness efforts this year with an all-pink golf tournament benefiting local patients with breast cancer.

The “Tee It Up for a Cure” golf tournament, now in its 17th year, saw 29 teams turn out to play at Blackberry Trail Golf Course on Sept. 27. Players range in age from late teens to mid-90s and pay to play, helping cover the fees to use the golf course.

This year, the tournament raised about $7,000 to help breast cancer patients.

“Everything is pink, and they just go all out for us out there,” said Genett Johnson, a founder of the tournament.

All sponsorship funds go directly to the Helen Keller Hospital Foundation.

“It stays locally,” Johnson said. “This money goes to young women who have breast cancer and can’t afford [other expenses]. They have to qualify, and they have to be screened.”

Johnson said the event has grown over the years. The inaugural nine-hole tournament was held at Florence Country Club, and proceeds went to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

“We had the best time, and everybody started saying we need to do this more and more,” Johnson recalled.

Once they switched to Blackberry Trail, 18 teams participated.

“The next year we added a few more, and the next a few more, and then we got to the point we couldn’t take any more,” she added. “We always have a waiting list.”

Three years ago, Johnson also made pink “I Can Fight Breast Cancer” T-shirts. More than 5,000 of those shirts have been sold to date.

Johnson said participants are usually teachers or nurses and come from as far as Mississippi and Tennessee. Most come back year after year.

“Some of these ladies only see each other once a year at that tournament,” she said.

Registration for the 2020 tournament will open in July.

—kendyl.hollingsworth@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5757. Follow on Twitter @TD_KendylH

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