No other word can describe it.
“The way this island comes together,” Kim Cannon said. “This is just amazing.”
Donations had poured in for the Oct. 17 Alex Cannon Benefit Golf Tournament hosted by the Shelter Island Country Club. All 1,500 raffle tickets were claimed, and more than 50 golfers pitched in $100 apiece to play in the nine-hole, two-person scramble.
After the final ball found the cup on the last hole, after the last of dozens of donated prizes had been raffled, the event had garnered more than $15,300 to help pay for the medical equipment and services Alex will need when he is able to return home.
Alex, 59, was paralyzed from the shoulders down after falling off a roof last November. He hasn’t left a hospital bed in 11 months and suffers from painful stage 4 bedsores, the most severe.
He was finally moved to a rehabilitation facility in Uniondale a few weeks ago. The first order of business is healing his bedsores and weaning him off a ventilator so he can breathe on his own.
“He was giving up in the hospital,” Kim said. “He didn’t want to go on.” Rehab has given him a lifeline. “They are really lifting up his spirits,” she added.
And so are Shelter Islanders.
When Kim told him about the benefit tournament, Alex was incredulous.
“Why are they doing things like that for me?” he asked.
“Because you are a good guy,” she told him. “Even I like you and I’m your ex-wife.”
The couple divorced 15 years ago but have remained fast friends. When Alex is able to come home, it will be to live with Kim in his house on South Ferry Road. Kim and her sister, DeDe O’Connell, spent the worst months of the pandemic installing linoleum floors, giving the walls fresh coats of paint and clearing space to make room for a hospital bed and other necessities.
Islanders pitched in to help there as well. Danny Binder donated the use of a dumpster. Chris Fokine, Guy Young, Jim Williams and Eric Kraus renovated the bathroom free of charge to include a roll-in shower.
All the money collected by SICC from the benefit tournament far exceeded expectations. The funds will be directed to the Shelter Island Lions Club Foundation, as opposed to a supplemental trust fund, as initially planned, because supplemental funds are capped by Medicaid, SICC President Gordon Cantley said.
The foundation, which has been helping Kim with expenses as she prepares for Alex’s return home, will ensure the funds from the tournament will continue to be used in the same manner. Kim said she expects much of the money will help pay for a home health aide.
“We knocked it out of the park,” Cantley told the golfers and supporters, including a large contingent from Gardiner’s Bay Country Club, who gathered outside SICC’s clubhouse for the raffle drawing and tournament awards.
Despite masks and social distance, the mood was happy, upbeat and perhaps slightly giddy, most likely due to the realization that together they had accomplished something good and meaningful against the pall of the pandemic.
“It was a great showing for Shelter Island and for Goat Hill,” Mr. Cantley said. “What a way to end the golf season.”
You can read more about Mr. Cannon’s condition and progress, and can make a donation at www.gofundme.com/f/alex-cannon-needs-help-with-medical-expenses.
The tournament’s first-place finishers among the men’s teams were Ian Kanarvogel and Jimmy Rando with a score of 31. Bruce Taplin and Ian Weslek came in second with a 32. Among the mixed twosomes and all-female teams, Jack and Alexis Gibbs won with a score of 36 after a tie and match of cards. Mary Fran Gleason and Tom Bliss were second. Dr. Martin Karpeh won closest to the hole honors on No. 9.
Reminder for SICC members: Our season-closing membership meeting and board elections take place on the clubhouse porch at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. Members will elect three people to the board: president and two trustees.
Nominations will be taken from the floor. Members will also review the club’s finances, accomplishments and plans for the future.
Please remember to wear masks and practice social distancing at all times.