Our Story

Champions for Hope is all about serving those who are dealing with extraordinary obstacles. Any one of us has the opportunity every day to be a champion for someone in need. For our inaugural event, we are asking you to become a champion for two tremendous causes very dear to our hearts: the JT Townsend Foundation and pancreatic cancer research. To understand why these two missions are so important, here is our story. 

Champions Tour player and 2005 PLAYERS Champion, Fred Funk, and Jacksonville businessman Tommy Zitiello first met in 1993 as next-door neighbors. Tommy established the infamous Funks’ Punks fan club to follow and cheer on Fred while playing on the TOUR. The club incorporated hundreds of Jacksonville community members for parties, cheering, and a heck of a good time in support of favorite TOUR player – Fred Funk.

As the years past, Fred and Tommy saw the incredible spirit in the Funks’ Punks – they knew this crew could channel that spirit into serving those who were struggling in our community. This is when Fred met a young high school senior who was recently paralyzed from an accident at a football game – JT Townsend. JT Townsend changed both Fred and Tommy forever. What started as a neighborly effort to help a local Episcopal High School student with a wheel-chair accessible home grew into a lifelong mission to support and aid those dealing with tremendous obstacles. Along with JT, they created a foundation built around aiding the First Coast community who stood by JT’s side during his recovery. Though JT passed away in 2013, the charity’s doors remain open to carry our beloved JT’s legacy forward.

Today, the JT Townsend Foundation has helped 250 families providing over $500,000 in adaptive equipment with Tommy’s wife, Judi, as the foundation board chair. Judi is a two-year pancreatic cancer survivor. Since her diagnosis in 2014, her mission is to be a voice and champion for all of those suffering from this deadly cancer.

To us, this is more than a golf tournament. It is personal. We hope you’ll join our mission and become a Champion for Hope