A home run isn't part of golf, but that pretty much describes the long ball that University Police (UP) launched over the fence when they established the University Police Scholarship for Criminal Justice.
It wasn’t a few patrolmen behind an effort to raise money to fund scholarships for students majoring in Criminal Justice. Nearly everyone took their swing in the batter’s box to score a contribution – whatever they could manage – for the endowment fund created through the Fredonia College Foundation in 2011.
That was the year Lieutenant Clifton Wheeler and then Fredonia College Foundation Associate Director Rich Ryan combined UP’s own golf tournament with the venerable Fredonia Alumni Golf Tournament. With UP’s team effort, a full complement of golfers and generous sponsors, the tournament flourished and the Criminal Justice endowment became fully funded in two quick years.
“These are blue-collar folks who were nearly 100 percent behind it. To have a group on our college campus – or any campus, in fact – completely behind one effort to help our students is huge. It’s pretty special,” Mr. Ryan said. “You would be hard pressed to find another department that is funding an endowment at such a high participation.”
Lt. Wheeler learned of the need for scholarship funding for Criminal Justice majors while serving as a liaison to the Criminal Justice Club. Part of his duty was conducting firearms safety classes for members. “I checked to see what scholarships were available and found out there was only one at the time,” he recalled.
The vision that a golf tournament could raise money for Criminal Justice scholarships can be traced to the large and very successful golf tournament that police officers in Jamestown, N.Y., host each year. “We always go down there as a team, and I thought how much potential there was for a tournament up here,” explained Wheeler, a 23-year UP veteran and for several years tournament co-chair with Ryan.
Chief of Police Ann Burns has been among the tournament’s strongest supporters. “Chief Burns has been an integral part of the whole tournament, supporting the students,” Wheeler said.
No doubt Wheeler’s dream has been realized at Fredonia. To date, scholarships totaling $7,300 have been awarded to six students in the last six years.
The 2017 tournament was held in July at Shorewood Country Club, Dunkirk, N.Y., and the 2018 tournament is slated for Friday, July 20.