I have played golf more times than I can justify given my current income bracket. While I very much enjoy the brief moments following a straight drive or hole ending putt, it seems that the majority of the time I spend on a golf course I am questioning how I justified allocating twice my daily budget to prove to myself I am in no way improving at golf. And the more you play the more overwhelming this sensation becomes, because you’ve satisfactorily hit the exact same shot in previous rounds, and even when you know exactly what you have to do, it never works out as you hoped. Thursday, July 18th was different. Because everything that happened at the Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course between hours of 9 am and 6 pm was exactly as planned… it all happened for a reason.

It should be said that the golf played on the course that day, at least by my team, went in no way how we had planned. Our desired score of 8-under was interrupted by multiple progress-halting bogies and we finished at par. However, if you had ridden past us during that round of golf, you would have thought we were on track to set a course record. We were laughing and cheering and completely bypassing the feelings of self-loathing we usually experience while playing. Because Thursday was not meant to be a usual day on the course, it was meant to be BIG CAT golf; lighthearted and friendly, while surrounded by those you love.

Even after the day of golf concluded and we all piled up onto the clubhouse porch, the buzz in the air was unlike anything I’ve ever been apart of. Following the first meal most of us had eaten that day, came an hour of giveaways. I was really moved watching as these gifts donated by individuals and businesses that had never met Ben were handed out to the people that continue to support the Cush It To The Limit foundation. I saw it as rather symbolic, showing that the fruits of our labor can be tangible, and that the pay out for our efforts provide some with gifts far too large to fit into a decorated baggie. Then we got to hear from Dr. Alex Greninger, who is working closely alongside Ben’s Doctor, Dr. Andrei Shustov on the HSTCL research. He really helped drive home the impact that our fundraising is having on his team, and how close we are to making some really groundbreaking discoveries. The thought of Ben’s sacrifice leading to a cure gives us a reason to continue this fight, and reminds us why we started this charity to begin with.

Whether it was the kegs on ice, or a more existential force keeping us all upbeat, anyone in attendance can agree that the First Annual Ben Cushing Memorial Golf Scramble went exactly how Ben would have liked it to go. To the point that the forecasted showers that were supposed to last throughout the day never got the chance to rain on our parade, as we were blessed with blue skies and warm sun rays up until minutes after the banquet concluded. (Not that the rain would have had any impact on the irrevocable positive attitude shared by everyone there). I don’t think anyone will question whether or not Ben made his presence felt that day, as we all sat basking in the sun on the beautiful Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course, all worries and concerns so detached from our current state it felt as though they didn’t exist, perfectly content with the present company and responsibilities that lie ahead. The kind of environment that can only be formed for brief periods of time, when a group of caring people come together to show that they still hold closely members that are no longer with them, and that they will stop at nothing to keep the deceased’s memories and responsibilities enacted. Ben’s final mission was to beat rare blood cancer, and it is now up to us to see this resolved.

It takes a pretty special person to trigger the kind of wide spread commitment to a cause that the community surrounding Ben has shown through the Cush It To The Limit Foundation. Many of the people who took a Thursday off of work to play the fickle game of golf were the same people who spent 2017 in hospital rooms at Ben’s side, the same people who continue to make donations every time we run a fundraising event, the same people who are still plagued by the Big Cat shaped hole his departure left in all of our lives. We continue to show this dedication to finding a cure because we know what Hepatosplenic t-cell lymphoma is capable of taking from us. But it’s time for Cush It To The Limit to rely upon more than just those who knew Ben, by looking to new communities to help us raise the next quarter million dollars. Because across the globe in Australia, is another young man who is fighting for his life against the same unrelenting enemy that Ben faced. But unlike Ben, his diagnosis didn’t come with a city-wide support team ready to answer the call to action. This is why we Cush It To The Limit, because while Hepatosplenic t-cell lymphoma may have taken Ben’s life, it will not be taking the lives of people in his situation much longer. We need to push Ben’s message now more than ever, to show these other communities around the world what a group of loving and passionate people are capable of achieving. We may be a small city but our platform is large and our message is important.

To all golfers, volunteers, hole sponsors and employees at Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course, I want to extend my deepest gratitude. Without all of you we would have never been able to make the kind of difference we have within the world of rare blood cancers. Ben fought with his whole heart up until his last day on earth, and its now up to us to finish the fight. Keep Cushing It To The Limit. And remember that this is all For A Reason.