Las Vegas, Nevada (January 11, 2014)–It might be the most difficult story to cover as a writer or be involved with as a police officer or other law enforcement official. But, unfortunately, kids going missing and being exploited is still an on-going issue. But even with the bad news comes some good because organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) are committed to saving as many kids as possible. This week, the Foundation, celebrities, sponsors, and others involved in the cause gathered in Las Vegas for the annual NCMEC Celebrity Golf Tournament sponsored by Canon which was played at the PGA TOUR's TPC Las Vegas. Among the notables playing were Roger Clemens, Bing Engvall, Kevin Sorbo, Jonathan Ogden, Vida Blue, and many others. –By Brian Hurlburt.
"We started 15 years ago and we thought that it never would be as big as it is, but we had more than 800 people at our opening event and every one of the Canon dealers and the people that are here care about the kids," says John W. Arnos, Sr., a board member and special advisor to the president of the organization, John Ryan. "When you look around and see what is going on and our impact, it's very compelling. And because John Walsh started the national center in 1984 more than 19,000 kids have been saved. Without John Walsh and this organization, where would those kids be? So thank God for that. Canon and the National Center are a terrific team."
Coming to Las Vegas to play golf is always a good time, but for the celebrities and athletes participating in the event, helping a worthwhile cause is never too far from their minds. Las Vegas Golf Region resident and NFL Hall-of-Famer Jonathan Ogden, who won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, regularly helps out when he can. "Everybody has a foundation or a cause they deem worthy and all of these events are worthy," says Ogden, who helps the kids of Las Vegas and Baltimore through reading programs and other initiatives. "I try to support as many of these organizations as I can because I know to each person that particular event is the most important. So anytime I can come out and help like they help me out, I feel it's an obligation of mine now that I am a Hall-of-Famer and just a person who cares about the community."
TPC Las Vegas, the annual home course for the tournament, is owned and operated by the PGA TOUR and is a former host course for events on the PGA TOUR and the Champions TOUR. Plus the course is known as the home of professional golf in Las Vegas because several Tour pros who live in Las Vegas play and practice on the course when not on Tour. Check out the official TPC Las Vegas website where you can reserve your official PGA TOUR tee times in Las Vegas.
The 2014 event helped NCMEC raise over $438,000, which will benefit NCMEC’s mission of bringing missing children home. Since 1997, Canon U.S.A. and NCMEC have collaborated to educate the public about the growing issue of child abduction. The Canon4Kids program, a partnership between Canon U.S.A. and NCMEC, donates products to help law enforcement quickly disseminate photos and information about missing children, and educates parents about tips for taking and maintaining updated photos of their kids.To date, Canon has donated over 2,000 pieces of digital photographic and imaging technology equipment to assist law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Puerto Rico in the recovery of missing children.
Bill Engvall, one of the world's top comedians and a recent finalist on Dancing With The Stars, always has a smile on his face but still feels the impact of helping charities, especially one like the NVMEC. And he has a few ideas about how those who harm children should be handled.
"This is such a wonderful cause but this issue kind of flies under the radar, but it's still a real problem that we have," says Engvall. "Events like this are great because not only do you get to hang out with friends you haven't seen for awhile, but we are raising money for a great cause to help stop the trafficing and all of that. I think it's one of those things that people kind of turn their heads about because it's so horrible, but it's a huge issue. John started this decades ago and is still dedicated to the work he does. And fortunately for the bad people, I'm not in charge of the justice part of this because there would be no trials; we'd just take a drive out to the desert and somebody woudn't be coming back."