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Veterans and their families take a swing at PGA fundraiser

Ian Leonard prepares his swing June 21, 2018 on hole 88 of 100. Hannah Coyle / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 4
Veterans and their families participated in a golf clinic at Mount Frontenac Golf Course led by members of the Professional Golf Association. Participants went home with their very own set of golf clubs. Hannah Coyle / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 4
Edwin Adricula, vice president of operations for United Hero's League, and daughter Autumn spend quality time together at PGA fundraiser clinic. Hannah Coyle / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 4
Veterans and their families practice their swings with guidance from members of the PGA. Hannah Coyle / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

FRONTENAC — Golf enthusiast and Fox 9 News meteorologist Ian Leonard and his famous "Bad Pants" spent the longest day of the year golfing at the 100 Holes for Hope at Mount Frontenac Golf Course.

"First and foremost we are helping veterans," Leonard said Thursday, June 21 at the golf event hosted by Treasure Island Resort and Casino.

Treasure Island, Disabled American Veterans and the PGA teamed up to raise money for the United Heroes League, an organization that has donated thousands of dollars worth of equipment and sporting event tickets to military kids.

"If you give freely," Leonard said in his red, white and blue pants, "you'll feel better and you'll live better."

Professional golfers from the Minnesota branch of the PGA started 7 a.m. and spent the day golfing 100 holes as part of the fundraiser.

DAV member John Walker said he was amazed by the enthusiasm of the professionals, with one group completing the challenge in just six hours and 20 minutes.

"They just hit and go, hit and go," Walker said, "they would run back to their carts."

This was the first event of its kind, but the DAV frequently partners with PGA HOPE to host clinics for disabled golfers throughout the year.

At 3 p.m. veterans and their families not only participated in a clinic where they got tips and tricks from pro golfers, but they all went home with their own set of golf clubs, a gift from the PGA.

"Most of these people don't have a lot of golf experience and I think it's really good that they were able to get these golf clubs and now have an opportunity," said Jim Deutsch, coach for the University of St Thomas men's golf team.

Deutsch said he is a lifelong lover of golf and frequently volunteers at golf clinics for veterans.

Also participating in the event were Edwin Adricula, vice president of operations for United Heroes League and a recently retired soldier with 24 years of service for the Army National Guard.

Adricula said the work of the league helped him spend time with his daughter, who had taken an interest in golf but never really played.

Matthew Janu, a 12-year-old from Sartell, Minn., also got to make up some time on the golf course with his dad, a military veteran.

Janu said he is a big fan of the sport and, "I just really wanted to meet PGA golfers."