Get lucky when the golf balls drop

Josie Jacob, 7, and Sierra Jacob, 11, hold up two possibly lucky golf balls at Useless Bay Golf & Country Club. The girls were there to help promote the Big Brothers Big Sisters first annual Helicopter Golf Ball Drop benefit on Saturday, Aug. 29.    - Patricia Duff / The Record
Josie Jacob, 7, and Sierra Jacob, 11, hold up two possibly lucky golf balls at Useless Bay Golf & Country Club. The girls were there to help promote the Big Brothers Big Sisters first annual Helicopter Golf Ball Drop benefit on Saturday, Aug. 29.
— image credit: Patricia Duff / The Record

The last time 9-year-old Darien Jacob got his hands on some abandoned golf balls, he made $61.50.

He was selling them at Useless Bay Golf & Country Club’s Invitational, where his “big brother” Earl Lawson set him up with a stand.

“I sold lemonade, too,” Darien said, with evident entrepreneurial spirit.

Darien might become a regular golf ball tycoon if he goes back to the club during the first annual Big Brothers Big Sisters Helicopter Golf Ball Drop on Saturday, Aug. 29.

Hundreds of golf balls will rain down on the course that day, and the one that lands closest to the target will win its owner $1,000 in cash. Anyone who buys a $5 raffle ticket can win.

Other prizes will also be given to ticket holders whose balls close in on the mark, including golf packages and a get-away weekend.

The funds raised will support the nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County’s mission to match children with mentors from the community.

“This program really makes a difference,” said Carol McNeil, the president of the nonprofit’s board.

And she should know. For almost seven years, she has been matched with her “Little” Kelsey, who is now in high school.

“I can’t imagine not having Kelsey as part of my life for the past seven years. I have watched her grow from a goofy and loveable 9-year-old into a smart, talented and beautiful young woman,” she said.

“Being a “Big” is a small investment to make for such a significant return — it can mean the world to someone. It has meant the world to me.”

Lawson said being Darien’s “Big” has been a pleasure.

For the past two years, he and Darien meet every week for about two to four hours for outings to ball games, the aquarium, or more often just over to the local library to read and check out some books.

Darien’s sisters, Sierra, 11, and Josie, 7, also have “Bigs.”

Animal lover Sierra is looking forward to an upcoming trip to the circus with her “Big,” especially to see the elephants. Josie and her “Big” just completed a menagerie of painted seashells which she proudly displays on her new “friendship shelves” that she created expressly for them.

For the Jacob children, visiting with their “Bigs” is a nice change of venue.

“It gets you out of the house to enjoy a couple of hours with your ‘Big,’” Sierra said. “Especially if you are feeling upset or annoyed or something.”

The agency offers school-based and community-based programs on both south and north Whidbey. Volunteers are matched with kids ages 6 to 14 who are willing to build a positive caring friendship.

In the past 10 years, the agency has matched nearly 2,500 children. But many more are still waiting for a “Big.”

“Your contribution, each golf ball you buy, helps us reach another child in our community,” McNeil said. “And we won’t stop until all children on Whidbey who want a Big Brother or Big Sister have been matched.”

South Whidbey site director Michaela Marx Wheatley said the golf ball event is for everyone.

“It’s a celebration not just for our matches, but for everyone in this incredibly supportive community,” Wheatley said.

“And, of course, the highlight will be when the helicopter releases all those balls onto the golf course. It should be pretty spectacular.”

That spectacle will be preceded by a day of activities and feasting, including a putting and a long-drive contest for both children and adults hosted by golf pro Brion Lubach, who will present a basket of prizes to the winning golfers.

There will also be a cookout with hamburgers and hot dogs prepared by country club chef Dave Blue, accompanied by a bar and other beverages for guests.

The party will culminate in the arrival of a helicopter from which a professional parachutist will jump onto the golf course with the Big Brothers Big Sisters flag in tow, followed by the release of a billow of balls.

“We found a great partner in the Useless Bay Golf & Country Club,” McNeil said.

“It’s going to be a party for the community and everybody who believes in our mission.”

The event is from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29 at the Useless Bay Golf & Country Club in Langley.

Raffle tickets are still on sale at the country club and the Big Brothers Big Sisters offices in Langley and Oak Harbor, or at the event. Ticket holders don’t have to be present to win.

For more information, call Wheatley at 221-6808, ext. 5417 or Peggy Dyer, the nonprofit’s executive director, at 360-279-0644 or e-mail

To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters, click here.

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