What do baguettes and croissants have to do with a golf outing fundraiser started by a Wilton family?
Nine years ago, Wilton’s Scott and Linda Gance founded the annual Honorine St. Jude Golf Classic. This year’s event will be held on Monday, July 22, at The Country Club of Darien and all proceeds will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, supporting the hospital’s lifesaving mission to “advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment” where “no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.”
From its first year in 2010, when the tournament raised about $1,500, to 2018 when the fundraiser took in a milestone of $25,000, the Honorine St. Jude Golf Classic represents the Gance family’s commitment to selfless giving, stretching back generations. For while it was started by Scott and Linda, the tournament really honors the tradition started by Scott’s beloved mother, Marcelle Honorine Gance, who through her baking did so much to further the St. Jude’s mission.
Scott’s father, Anthony Gance, was an American soldier during World War II stationed in small village in the French Alps. He met Marcelle, a local villager, at a dance. Marcelle, a French pastry chef, was deeply sympathetic to the hungry children when food supplies were scarce, so she baked bread and distributed it during the difficult wartime. The couple soon got married and returned to the United States together.
Marcelle continued spreading joy with her baked goods in the States as well, giving away hundreds of breads and pastries to friends, neighbors, and other community members during the holidays. Many pressured her to collect money for these items, but she refused. Instead, she encouraged people to make donations to St. Jude.
“When she came to this country and saw the abundance of food they had here, she was so appreciative and she wanted to give back. She always had a passion for the children because of her experience providing for them during the war,” Scott says, explaining why Marcelle was inspired to give to St. Jude.
To memorialize his mother’s giving spirit, he decided to continue her legacy through the establishment of the Golf Classic to benefit St. Jude, and put his mother’s French middle name, Honorine, in the title.
The event provides a full day on the greens with a four-person scramble format. Awards will be given for the longest drive, closest-to-the-pin, hole-in-one, and more. Participants will also enjoy a barbecue lunch, entertainment, practice and analysis on the driving range with a golf pro from The Golf Performance Center, a putt-for-cash contest, an opportunity to win a brand-new car as the hole-in-one prize, cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres, a gourmet awards dinner and entertainment event, live music, door prizes and silent auction items.
At the event, participants can also expect to hear directly from a St. Jude family whose lives have been positively impacted by the Hospital’s mission to understand, defeat, and treat childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
“It is very important for this to be more than about golf. I wanted the people who participated in the event to meet and greet the family and the child patient that they are helping support,” articulates Scott.
The Hayward Toland family is one of those families who has been helped by St. Jude. They have participated in several of the Honorine St. Jude events over the past several years. In 2009, doctors found a malignant ependymoma tumor in son, Colin Hayward Toland’s, brain. His parents immediately obtained a referral to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for Colin’s ongoing care. At St. Jude, Colin received surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation which enabled him to enjoy eight more years with his family. Unfortunately, Colin’s cancer eventually returned and on March 17, 2018, he passed away surrounded by the loving care of family and friends at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His family wrote: “We would like to thank our St. Jude family for the continued love and support. Everybody here worked to help us create a positive environment to enjoy these last days together as a family.”
Youth from various local high school golf teams will serve as “Honorine caddies” for the tournament. These students volunteer their time caddying at the event and the donations and tips made go directly to St. Jude. This year’s “caddy master,” Fairfield Warde student, Kareena Desai, was responsible for recruiting other caddies from surrounding high schools. A point system criteria based on volunteers’ time spent fundraising and volunteering is implemented and the student with the highest score wins the $500 Honorine Caddy Scholarship.
Scott says that’s a special part of this event, “…seeing the youth getting involved in charity work and helping others in need, as well as everyone who steps up and gets involved to make a difference. ‘Many hands make light work’ is a phrase that is so true, and we have a great committee that makes this event what it is each year,” he conveys with gratitude.
Scott and Linda Gance look forward to another successful Honorine St. Jude Golf Classic surrounded by their children, friends, and community members, whether they are golf lovers or not, to continue Marcelle Honorine Gance’s beautiful legacy to benefit a wonderful cause.
Tickets to Golf & Dinner Gala
Dinner Gala (Only)
Single (Non-Golfer Guest)–$125
GOOD Morning Wilton Reader Exclusive: use Promo Code GMWILTON and get a 10% discount on any registration made through the main golfer registration form and a 20% discount on any registration made through the dinner-only form.