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'Holes Fore Heroes:' Chester golf tournament raises $30,000 for Tunnel to Towers Foundation

  • Nora and Bennett Holland, children of Amanda Holland of Commerce City, Colorado, drive the Power Wheels Police Car given to them by the golf team of Trooper Joshua Hecht, Sean Walls, Aaron Halstead, and Steve Mohr. With their winnings the made a winning bid on the car at the silent auction.

    Nora and Bennett Holland, children of Amanda Holland of Commerce City, Colorado, drive the Power Wheels Police Car given to them by the golf team of Trooper Joshua Hecht, Sean Walls, Aaron Halstead, and Steve Mohr. With their winnings the made a winning bid on the car at the silent auction.
    Provided photo

  • From left, Amanda Holland, Trooper Joshua Hecht and Whitney Hopkins. Amanda is the wife of fallen Detective Curt Holland and Whitney is the wife of fallen Illinois State Trooper, Nick Hopkins. Both men were killed in the line of duty, and both had their mortgages paid off by Tunnel to Towers.

    From left, Amanda Holland, Trooper Joshua Hecht and Whitney Hopkins. Amanda is the wife of fallen Detective Curt Holland and Whitney is the wife of fallen Illinois State Trooper, Nick Hopkins. Both men were killed in the line of duty, and both had their mortgages paid off by Tunnel to Towers.
    Provided photo

  • Members of the St. John Lutheran Church in Sparta present a check for $7,000 to Trooper Josh Hecht, which they raised through a huge fish fry that broke all sales records.

    Members of the St. John Lutheran Church in Sparta present a check for $7,000 to Trooper Josh Hecht, which they raised through a huge fish fry that broke all sales records.
    Provided photo

  • Winners of the championship flight of the second Tunnel to Towers Foundation Holes Fore Heroes golf Tournament pose with the St. Louis Blues mascot "Louis" during the morning nine holes. Pictured are Trooper Joshua Hecht, Louie, Aaron Halstead, Sean Walls and Steve Mohr.

    Winners of the championship flight of the second Tunnel to Towers Foundation Holes Fore Heroes golf Tournament pose with the St. Louis Blues mascot "Louis" during the morning nine holes. Pictured are Trooper Joshua Hecht, Louie, Aaron Halstead, Sean Walls and Steve Mohr.
    Provided photo

 
By Jim Beers
Contributing writer
updated: 9/21/2021 10:57 PM

The Tunnel to Towers golf tournament held at the Chester Country Club on Sept. 11 beat its fundraising goal by $10,000.

"This year I set a goal of $20,000 and we blew that goal out of the water, and raised $30,000, said Illinois State Police Officer Joshua Hecht.

Hecht has been the coordinator of the event for two years and says he every intention to organize a third annual Chester golf tournament in 2022.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was inspired by New York City firefighter Stephen Siller, who on Sept. 11, 2001 jogged 1.7 miles through the Brooklyn Tunnel to get to the devastated World Trade Center on his day off. He was killed when the South Tower collapsed.

Tunnel to Towers is a nonprofit that pledges 93 cents of every dollar raised goes directly toward one of three causes: building "Smart Homes" for injured servicemen and women who have been "catastrophically injured" in the line of duty; offering help to Gold Star Families who have lost a parent while they were defending our country; and to help families of first responders" who have been killed in the line of duty, usually by paying off the mortgage of the family home.

This year's Holes Fore Heroes was meant to assist the family of Curt Holland, a native of Sparta, and the son of Carl Holland, a retired Illinois Department of Natural Resources officer, and wife Sharon Holland. Both still live in Sparta and attended the 2021 tournament.

Curt Holland was a detective in Commerce City, Colorado who was killed by a suspected drunken driver on Oct. 17, 2020. Holland, who was on duty when he died, left a wife, Amanda, who is a nurse, and two children, Nora and Bennett. All three attended the 2021 golf tournament.

Hecht said he and Curt Holland were close friends. "We were both the same age, lived just miles apart, he in Sparta and me in Chester," Hecht said. "Throughout our childhood we played baseball against each other. He was quite a player."

On July 4, 2021 the Tunnel to Towers Foundation paid off Amanda Holland's mortgage. She remains in Commerce City, where she still works as a nurse. Carl and Sharon Holland make several trips yearly to visit her and their grandchildren.

Hecht said more than 50 sponsors donated $18,000 to this year's tournament. They are Troy Kueker of Country Financial; Advanced Turf and Grounds; Gwinn Chiropractic Center; Conversation Police Command Association; Benson's Wine Bar; Quality Towing-Columbia; Camper Exchange Inc.; Fidelity Blueline Mortgage; River City Auto-Chester; Chester Eagles Club; Fisher, Kerkhover, Coffey & Grimmels Law Office; Dave Schmitt Truck Service; First National Bank of Steeleville; Southern Illinois Realty; Wolters Custom Cabinets; Shawnee Trails Realty; Metro East Overhead Doors; D&F Home Builders; Buena Vista National Bank; Illinois Conversation Police Chief Tim Tyler; Conversation Police Lodge #146; Monroe County K-9 Unit; Country Financial-Alinda Jeffers; Current Tides Vacation Rentals & Real Estate Sales; Design Fitness and OKC Auto Body; Bee Buster Wood Carving Creations; Underwood Ammo; Jeff and Diane Kerkhover; Pechacek Funeral Homes; Stamm Pest Control; The Bollman Family; Miles Gerlach Hovland Family; Bob and Janice Taylor; Red Roof Liquor & Lottery; Carlos and Janice B. Barbour; Chumbley Family; Young Appliance Repair; Howell Financial Services; Braun Brothers Heating and Cooling; Koeneman Law Offices; Stearns Furniture Co.; Alan and Sharon Young; Adam and Jennifer Young; Gordon Family; Easton Farm & Trucking' Colvis Investment Service; Moto Mart; and Jarrod Peters.

"The fact that Curt was a popular, well-known man from Sparta, we had huge support from that entire area," Hecht added. "Abbey Miles and Logan Blind of Sparta did a great job of getting sponsors from the Sparta area."

"One of our biggest "single" donors from Sparta was the St. John Lutheran Church. They held a huge fish fry in memory of Curt that raised $7,000. They sold 500 pounds of fish that night and it was their biggest fish fry in the history of the event.

Ryan Homan, formerly from Chester who lives in Foley, Alabama, donated a three-night stay in Golf Shores, Alabama. Curt and Lacy Eggemeyer raffled off a 3-night stay in their Arkansas Lake House; while C4 Gun Store and Underwood Ammo donated four guns to be raffled for the cause.

During the tournament, Erik Armstrong, Chad Hecht and Chris Naeger cooked and sold 100 slabs of ribs, making a $700 profit for the cause.

Throughout the day Abbey Miles and Logan Blind managed a silent auction which raised $5,300. One auction item was a Power Wheel black police car provided by Overkill Custom Auto Body Shop in Sparta, which netted $800. That item was auctioned for the price of $800.00.

Hecht and Whitney Hopkins presented Amanda Holland with a "Hero-to-Hero Award" from the Foundation. Carl Holland of Sparta then gave a heartwarming tribute to his fallen son, Curt. He thanked everyone for the huge gift to his daughter-in-law and that his entire family was very thankful for the gesture.

A very moved and emotional Amanda Holland then gave a brief thank you to everyone who had a part in the event.