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For nearly two decades the CVS Health Charity Classic has brought together premiere golfers to help raise money for local non-profits. This year’s 19th edition came with a twist: a different format on the golf course and a new feature that attracted the best of the Providence food scene under one roof, with thousands of people turning out for a good cause.
For more information about the event, click here.
It is the golf, of course, that has been the draw for the better part of the past two decades.
Big-name professional golfers from the PGA, the LPGA and the Champions Tour, converging on the picturesque Rhode Island Country Club every June.
Just as the name has changed since it began in 1999 - it is now called The CVS Health Charity Classic - so has the event itself. But one thing remains constant: the stream of money generated from the weekend that every year is critical to the mission of dozens of charities throughout Rhode Island.
Merlo: ``We’re all very proud of the fact we’ve been able to donate over $20 million since the tournament began 19 years ago and we look forward to adding to that total this year.’’
CVS President and CEO Larry Merlo said to keep the tournament fresh, organizers changed the format this year: putting together the 18 players in teams of three and shortening it to two days instead of three.
Merlo: ``We’re always trying to do some new things and at the same time while the tournament focuses on great golf we want to also make it inclusive for golfers and non-golfers.’’
And that was the inspiration behind Crave RI, which debuted this year: a two-day culinary display on the floor of the Dunkin Donuts Center leading up to the golf tournament. More than 4,000 people sampled signature dishes from local restaurants over Thursday and Friday night, for an entry price of $20 - all part of the money raised for the CVS charities.
Merlo: ``Think about Rhode Island, think about the great restaurants we have, what an opportunity not just to showcase what exists here in Rhode Island but to open it up for the public and the crowds were just terrific.’’
Merlo had the same reaction many did when they first walked in.
Merlo: ``I said `Wow am I really in the Dunk?’ The layout was great, the ambience was great, I think the restaurateurs and the beverage vendors that were there, they were excited about the response they were getting. It just came off extremely well.’’
Walker: ``A lot of people coming through who were really just happy to be part of this. They knew the funds were going to non-profits, so it’s a great way to give back. People have really been enjoying the event, the restaurants downstairs are incredible.’’
Claire Walker is the Grants Project Manager for The Autism Project in Johnston, one of the charities the tournament has helped over the years. She was at the Dunk Thursday and Friday night helping check people in at Crave.