By Lucy Loughridge
In response to the rise in hunger around San Diego county due to COVID-19, John Ashworth, Co-founder of LinkSoul, has named Feeding San Diego as the charity beneficiary for his annual 108 Holes for a Cause fundraiser taking place on Monday, June 29. He is pledging a financial gift for every hole he completes at the Goat Hill Park golf course.
For just over five years, Ashworth has been running an annual fundraiser at this golf course and giving financial aid to a camp working with underprivileged kids. Unfortunately, the pandemic of COVID-19 forced the camp to be postponed, but Ashworth was still eager to make a difference elsewhere.
“I was looking for a charity to support, and I knew there was a serious problem with people getting financially tight,” says Ashworth. “The food banks were needing help.”
To Ashworth, a fundraiser centered around something as simple as golf is a perfect way to engage the community. He thinks this is a great opportunity to raise awareness about Feeding San Diego and the hunger that our very own community faces on a daily basis, especially considering the success he has had with community involvement in past years.
On June 22, only a week before the day of the fundraiser, Ashworth set up a pledging account and began to spread the word. He hoped to reach his goal of raising $25,000, leveraging his community, friends, and family to create a potential list of donors.
“I’ve got a pretty good email list, and have had a couple big donors jump in,” Ashworth says. “It all just started adding up.”
By Wednesday, June 24, Ashworth had already surpassed his goal, raising over $25,000 for Feeding San Diego in only two days. This has not stopped Ashworth from continuing his campaign with equal rigor, and he now hopes he can raise up to $50,000 by the date of the fundraiser.
“You know what they say, how every $1 donation can create up to four meals,” Ashworth says. “When I reached my goal of $25,000, I thought, ‘that’s 100,000 meals right there.’”
Accompanied by six other people that will be raising funds for other local charities, Ashworth will be playing golf for over 12 hours in response to his pledgers. He plans to start at 5:30 on Monday morning and continue until 6:00 at night, covering about 108 holes and 26 miles in total. Sponsors are free to spectate or even join in the game for 18 holes, but Ashworth expects the actual turn-out to be limited. The fundraiser is less about the day itself, and more about the process of encouraging and educating people to help his cause.
“We are so grateful to John for dedicating this year’s 108 Hole Challenge to Feeding San Diego,” says Charina Layman, Senior Manager of Corporate Partnerships at Feeding San Diego. “Before COVID-19, one in six children across San Diego County faced hunger. Now, we are seeing the need surge by 50 percent. The funds raised by John and his 108 Hole Challenge will significantly impact the lives of those facing hunger at a time when the support is needed more than ever.”
In the days leading up to his fundraiser, Ashworth will continue to spread the word about the work Feeding San Diego is doing in response to food insecurity. He hopes he will be able to mirror this process in the coming years, finding ways to make positive impacts across the community on a much larger scale.
“It’s such a humanitarian effort,” Ashworth says. “It’s so important for kids and people going through a bad stretch to get some help. I think it’s really amazing.”
Despite the restrictive disposition of COVID-19 and the inability to perform volunteer work in the same manner as in the past, Ashworth has proven that nothing can halt community engagement and good work. He recognized a community-wide issue and decided to tackle it, doing his part in his little corner of the world.
To support John’s 108 Holes for a Cause, go to pledgeit.org/unlimitedgoodwill.