SoWal People: Amy Walsh's Vision is Fore Her
August 14, 2015 by Audrey Johnson
When Amy Walsh gave birth to her first child, she knew her mother was dying from bone cancer. Even so, her parents jumped on a flight from Michigan to Santa Rosa Beach to meet their grandson. Although Amy was recovering from a cesarean, she explained, “I cooked her dinner, rubbed her feet and made her sit in the sun.”
The founder of Fore Her is no stranger to public service, or cancer for that matter. Amy’s sister was a toddler when she was diagnosed with leukemia, a disease which, thankfully, was successfully treated.
“My whole life I volunteered with Children’s Leukemia Foundation in Michigan and United Way,” said Amy. “After my mother was diagnosed, she volunteered with the American Cancer Society and Reach to Recovery. Volunteering was never a question for us. It was something we always did.”
Amy’s mother, Jeanette, was diagnosed with breast cancer on her 40th birthday. She found the lump herself and began treatment, which included a mastectomy. Jeanette lived cancer-free for seven years when she began to have chronic back pain. A visit to her doctor confirmed the cancer had metastasized to her bones and the family immediately laid out their plan of attack.
After depleting their savings to seek lifesaving treatment for Jeanette, and almost losing their home in the process, friends, family members and their local church stepped in and raised funds to support Amy’s family through the most difficult time of their lives.
Jeanette lost her 5 year battle with bone cancer, followed one year later by Amy’s Aunt Barb. The next year, Amy’s family got together, roasted a pig and played golf to celebrate the lives of these two special women. They had so much fun that they decided to do it again-only this time a few friends joined in. What started as a family reunion of sorts, is now celebrating its 15th year as a charity golf game in that has raised over $100,000 dollars for women who are suffering from breast cancer in Michigan.
“We had a lot of support just by asking for help because we had so much family and we had a church. But this is a very transient area and people don’t have the same resources here,” Amy explained. Inspired by her family’s outreach, she started Fore Her in Santa Rosa Beach to fill the gap for women in our community who don’t have family or the resources to have people raise money for them.
The organization raises funds through their signature annual event, the Fore Her Golf Tournament, to provide financial assistance for breast cancer patients and their families. The women have the freedom to use the money however they see fit and can choose to remain anonymous. No strings attached.
“We want people to ask for help and not be ashamed and embarrassed to ask for it,” said Amy.
The third annual Fore Her Golf Outing will be held at Emerald Bay Golf Club on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 8 am. The day of the event will include a fun filled 18 holes of golf (think Dress Like a Girl Hole and HUGE bras on every golf cart), food samples on the course, hole in one prizes, including a Clear Canoe and a pink golf cart from Electric Cart Company, lunch after the outing and a silent auction.
“My vision for this organization is to be a big resource for every woman in this area, not just for Okaloosa and Walton counties, but beyond,” said Amy.
That vision includes giving the community an opportunity to serve by donating their time and services to breast cancer patients in need, whether by putting new roof on a home, maintaining a patient’s lawn while they’re away receiving treatment or by providing travel resources so patients can spend time with their families.
Eight weeks after she gave birth, Amy traveled to Michigan and spent her first Mother’s Day burying her own mother. She arrived a few days before, just in time to say goodbye. When Jeanette saw her grandson, the last coherent words she uttered were, “He is so precious.”
Fore Her is run by a board of local women and men who all volunteer their time and energy for a wonderful cause. For more information, to register for the Fore Her Golf Outing or to become a sponsor, please visit www.foreher.org.