Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charity Golf Event Truly a Labor of Love

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charity Golf Event Truly a Labor of Love

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton, Times-Union columnist

None of the things that came naturally to Rick Wilkins were easy for his younger sister.

Trisha Wilkins, now 32, was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects the brain's ability to control the body. As sometimes happens with cerebral palsy, which is caused by an injury to the brain during birth, Trisha is also mildly retarded.

Not quite three years older than his sister, Rick Wilkins watched what his sister endured during their childhood. "Watching the struggles she went through, seeing how she was treated by some people, made me want to do what I could to help," Wilkins remembers.

And so, in 1993, the Rick Wilkins Foundation was born.

By then, Wilkins, after starring at The Bolles School and at Florida Community College at Jacksonville, was at the peak of his baseball career. He had made his Major League debut catching for the Chicago Cubs in June 1991. In 1993, he batted .303 with 30 home runs in 136 games for the Cubs.

Rick and his father, Ray Wilkins, director of accounts payable for CSX Transportation, decided Rick would never be in a better position to raise money to help people like Trisha. So they held a fund-raising golf tournament. That turned out to be the beginning of a commitment that will outlast Wilkins' playing career.

This weekend, the 10th annual Wilkins Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament for Charity will be held. It will include a baseball clinic tomorrow at the University of North Florida, two days of golf at the TPC Stadium Course and the TPC Valley Course, and a dinner and auction Sunday at the Marriott Sawgrass Resort. More than 40 athletes and entertainers are expected to participate, including New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, a six-time Cy Young Award winner.

Over the years, the Wilkins Foundation has raised about $900,000 to support various organizations that work with adults with disabilities and is expected to raise another $65,000 this weekend, Ray Wilkins said. …

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