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Charity auctions golf club access to help front-line workers


“What can I do to help?’’

How many of us have asked that question of ourselves across the past three months?

It’s a question that undoubtedly has confronted those who’ve been fortunate enough not to have become a part of the frightening statistics associated with the COVID-19 pandemic — whether it’s the millions who’ve contracted it or the tens of millions who’ve lost their jobs as a result of it.

Since mid-March, we’ve watched the nurses and doctors, police, paramedics and firefighters, delivery personnel and grocery store workers carry on with their jobs and wondered what we’d do without their bravery on the front lines.

Last month, I was introduced to Eric Sedransk, a 35-year-old Jersey City resident and avid golfer, and I was humbled by his clever initiative and the simplicity in which he found a way to help with the sport we both have a passion for.

Sedransk created his “Member4aday Auction,’’ using golf as a vehicle to raise important money for the front-line hospital workers in New York City.

He reached out to some of the most prestigious golf courses in the country and asked if they’d be willing to donate a round of golf for a foursome so he could auction it off to benefit COVID-19 relief.

Sedransk raised $101,186 in the week-long auction, which produced 202 percent more than his stated goal.

Eric Sedransk
Eric SedranskEric Sedransk

“I set the goal at $50,000 and, to be honest, I didn’t think I had a chance of getting anywhere near that, but I figured aim high,’’ he said. “I thought I was going to raise maybe $20,000.’’

Every penny of that $101,186 went to Sedransk’s charity of choice, Project Frontline — which was founded by TNT reporter Allie LaForce and her husband, Houston Astros pitcher Joe Smith, to whom Sedransk was introduced by one of the donors to his auction, the Dormie Network. Project Frontline was created by LaForce and Smith to buy meals from restaurants and deliver them to front-line hospital workers.

LaForce estimated the money Sedransk raised will provide between 10,000 and 12,500 meals to hospital workers in the city.

The genesis of Sedransk’s project is what strikes home the most in that he answered that question nagging many of us: “What can I do to help?’’

While quarantining at his mother’s home in Hilton Head, S.C., where the golf courses never closed during the COVID-19 crisis, he said, “I felt this overwhelming amount of guilt that I was playing golf while my friends and family in New York are battling a pandemic. That drove me to do this like nothing has ever driven me before — trying to figure out ways that I could give back, which ultimately led to this auction.’’

Before he was laid off just before the pandemic hit, Sedransk ran business development and partnerships for tech companies, so that background lent itself to creating an online auction.

“I just started reaching out to some people I’ve gotten to know through life, through business and though personal relationships,’’ he said. “I said, ‘Why not just reach out?’ Worse comes to worse, they’re going to say, ‘No.’ But I’m raising money for COVID-19 for hospitals and front-line workers in New York City. No one’s going to tell me, ‘Don’t call me.’ Even if they say, ‘No,’ they’re going to say, ‘Thank you.’ It’s like the softest sell on earth, so I figured, why not try it?’’

Sedransk’s first call was to a private course outside of Philadelphia called Rolling Green, because he knew the head pro happens to follow him on Instagram.

“I literally sent him a message on Instagram and he responded, ‘Yes,’ ” Sedransk said. “Honestly, that was all I needed. I’d like to think that even if the first person said, ‘No,’ I would have continued on. But like anything you do in life, if that first one works that’s all you need to go on. A lot of places said, ‘No,’ because their bylaws don’t allow it. Some said, ‘Yes.’ ”

Not just “some.’’ Forty-eight of them.

Shinnecock Hills said yes.

So, too, did Friar’s Head, a course that Phil Mickelson has told me is his “favorite golf course in the world.’’

Silo Ridge, part of the uber-exclusive Discovery Land Company, said yes.

So did Medalist, Tiger Woods’ home course.

Same with Sleepy Hollow, one of the regional gems in Westchester.

Prestwick in Scotland, the site of the first-ever British Open (October 1860), said yes, as did the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda.

“The response was outrageous,’’ Sedransk said.

So, too, was the end result.

“I think I was really able to tap into something,’’ he said. “I think there’s a much larger opportunity to create a platform around golf and giving — auctions, giveaways, events, content.’’

Sedransk had such success with the member-for-a-day auction that on Monday he launched another fundraising project to raise more money for COVID-19 relief in New York City.

This one is a sweepstakes for a round of golf with former Yankee Johnny Damon at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, the course that hosts the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational, and a round of golf with former Giants star Justin Tuck at Whipperwill Golf Club in Westchester.

Sedransk is working in concert with Damon, who donated the threesome at Bay Hill. Those interested can find more information at go.rallyup.com/johnnydamon.



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