American Red Cross tees off in honor of local veterans

Folks got to tee off bright and early at the Elmbrook Golf Club on Sunday morning for a special cause.

Folks got to tee off bright and early at the Elmbrook Golf Club on Sunday morning as nearly 100 people showed up to the 2nd Annual American Red Cross of Northwest Michigan's Golf Outing.

Opening ceremonies included a flag raising by the American Legion Color Guard that was accompanied by Jenna Elsenheimer who sang the National Anthem.

"We decided this year to take the opportunity to turn a fundraiser into an educational component and highlight our service to the armed forces program," said Executive Director for the Red Cross of Northwest Michigan, Kevin Bavers.

The special addition this year included teaming up with the American Legion Post #35 to honor World War II veteran, Richard Rizzio as this year's Red Cross veteran honoree.

"We chose Richard Rizzio based on a consensus between ourselves and the American Legion and felt he would be a goof representative for this type of event and that he would really represent the epitome of a veteran and what it means to serve," said Bavers.

Rizzio served in the Army during the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded the Silver Star for bravery during combat and the Purple Heart for being wounded while in action.

"The Red Cross has done a fantastic job way back in service," said Rizzio. "They have done a great deal for the vest, their forever working with them."

Rizzio was humbled to receive the recognition, but says that the award isn't just about him.

"I am accepting this honor not for myself, but for the 23 of our buddies that didn't make it," said Rizzio. "They're the ones that deserve the credit but they're not here to accept it. So in their honor, I thank you all."

Proceeds from the event will benefit the American Red Cross of Northwest Michigan and will help them to provide important educational and emergency outreach and relief services to people in the region.

Organizers say they plan to continue the tradition of selecting a veteran each year who deserves recognition.