Swinging with a purpose

Golf tournament to benefit Shelter for Abused Women, Children

Diana Rilew and Nancy Lopez

Diana Rilew and Nancy Lopez

The power of one impacting the community for the better best describes the efforts of Naples resident Diana Riley.

With an intensity of passion for social issues, Riley has been mobilizing her efforts, resources and business acumen toward the mission of The Shelter for Abused Women and Children, in Naples.

A member of the board of trustees and the Shelter’s Guild, the fund raising arm of the organization, Riley is also chair of the shelter’s golf events.

Last summer, she commissioned her flair for creative thinking to come up with an idea that would help feed the shelter’s coffers. Aware of the area’s bounty of golf aficionados, a series of events, “Swinging with Purpose” was birthed.

“It came to me as a multi-step process. The first event, held Jan. 13 to 18 rallied 10 participating Naples ladies golf groups to devote one or more of their ladies golf days to play and ‘Swing with Purpose’ on behalf of the shelter,” Riley said.

There were four ways to participate: donations of $10 the day of play, gently used clothing for the Shelter’s Options Thrift Shop, items for the shelter’s wish list or the purchase of a golf towel imprinted with the event’s logo.

“It was a huge success,” Riley said “We raised more than $8,000 in cash and delivered dozens of boxes to clothing to Options, with some clubs opting to solely donate only wish list items with specific needs identified.”

Last November, while attending the LPGA event awards dinner, the stars positioned perfectly and Riley had the golden opportunity to meet pro golfer, Nancy Lopez who was recognized as one of the LPGA’s top 50 players and teachers during their 50th anniversary, in 2000.

“Call it what you wish, good timing, that it was meant to be, or that our paths crossed for a reason. We connected and began a dialogue that continued through emails and telephone chats,” she said.

“We discussed our similarities and that we are the same age, have both accomplished things in our life and that now we are both in a place in our lives where we want to give back.”

Spearheaded by Riley and a dedicated 11 person committee, the fortuitous conversation has since evolved into a May 5 golf tournament limited to 120 players at Quail West Golf and Country Club, in Naples that will be a four person scramble.

The tournament entry fee includes a tee gift, tournament prizes, a beverage cart and boxed lunch and a cocktail reception immediately following golf.

After the tournament, prizes will be awarded for the winning men, women and mixed teams, and the event will feature the premier silent auction item of a foursome with Lopez and a luncheon to be scheduled within one year.

Riley said 100 percent of the proceeds will go to The Shelter for Abused Women and Children.

On Nov. 12, the pro golfer will return to Naples for the third event of the Swinging with Purpose series of fundraisers for a lecture, luncheon and trunk show of the Nancy Lopez Collection.

The line of golf wear and golf gear and accessories includes pieces from two to plus sizes in an array of styles from sleeveless, short sleeve, elbow and three quarter length styles.

“My line is designed by a golfer for golfers with their specific needs in mind in great colors and great fabrics,” Lopez said.

A part of the Naples scene for the past 16 years, the last three of which have been full time, Riley, a former business owner, felt the call to the mission of the shelter five years ago.

“The issue of domestic violence issue kept crossing my path from conversations with friends and daughters of friends, and I learned that abuse is more prevalent, especially among younger women than we like to talk or think about,” Riley said.

“They talked about how among their peers, men hit women and overpower women through date rape. The chilling stats are that one in four young women will experience some type of violence in their lifetime.”

With the goal of beginning and continuing the dialogue about this taboo topic among her peers, Riley and other volunteers and staff work hard at the shelter to create awareness of this timely issue.

“Passionate about women’s issues, passionate about golf — the Swinging with Purpose events are a win-win situation that benefits so many in need,” added Riley.

MORE INFORMATION

WHAT: Swinging With Purpose to benefit The Shelter for Abused Women and Children

WHEN: 12:30 p.m. shotgun Saturday, May 5

WHERE: Quail West Golf and Country Club, 5560 Burnham Road, Naples

FEES: $200 individual golfer; $800 foursome

INFORMATION: To register or for sponsorship opportunities visit swinging for the shelter.org

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