CLEVELAND — A northeast Ohio man is taking a sport he's loved since childhood and using it to raise funds for those in need of speech therapy.
Mike Balzano has been golfing for a while.
"My dad took me on a golf course when I was 7 years old," Balzano said
He loves the sport so much, he tees up at least once per week.
"Best and worst thing with this game is once you start, you're not going to want to stop," he said.
While Balzano golfs, often just for fun, he's getting ready to golf for a good cause for the Orange Effect Foundation.
"They help children, most of them autistic, with speech therapy," Balzano said. I like this cause because it's very simple and direct. The children who get the speech therapy help when they're kids have better confidence, grow and have a better chance of having a great adult life."
The Orange Effect Foundation's mission is to help kids with autism get the speech therapy classes they need, and the group uses fundraisers to do that. But when the pandemic canceled many of these events last year, the foundation had to find a creative way to keep the money flowing.
"I go 'I've heard of these one day 100-hole marathons," and Joe thought I was kind of crazy. But he researched and he looked and he said 'yeah this may be kind of perfect for what we're doing.'"
The goal of the event is to have at least 24 people commit to playing 100 holes of golf in one day. Each of the golfers also raises a certain amount of money.
"We raised $49,000 for them, the charity last year. And as of today, we're over 50 pushing 51 for this year too," he said.
This year, around 26 people have committed to playing in the marathon.
For Balzano, he's looking forward to hitting the course for a cause he's passionate about.
"It means a lot to me," he said. "I think this is one of the reasons, one of the main reasons why we wanted to get involved in this."
The marathon is taking place Monday and donations are still being accepted.