SIDNEY — More than 90 people gathered at the DND Disc Golf course in Sidney on Saturday morning for a charity tournament to benefit Disabled American Veterans.

Crystal and Robb Putek were the brains behind Saturday’s event and together the have competed in dozens of tournaments in the last year.

“We wanted to get more involved in the disc golf community,” Crystal Putek said. “And we played in over 40 tournaments last year so we thought, let’s run one.”

A few months ago the Putek’s found out about the Veterans for Vets event by Dynamic Discs, an event aimed at raising money through winter disc golf tournaments for local organizations that serve veterans. And from there, they decided to hold their own Veterans for Vets tournament to benefit the Disabled American Veterans chapter in Augusta.

“To be able to give them a good chunk of money to help with their operations, it just warms my heart,” Crystal Putek said.

Players who pre-registered for the DAV fundraiser tournament on Saturday at DND Disc Golf in Sidney got a pair of “Veterans for Vets” golf discs from Dynamic Discs. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

And the funds being donated to Disabled Americans Veterans, also known as DAV, is more than the Putek’s originally expected.

“Since it’s a winter tournament we thought we’d have about 25 people come out but I think were almost at 90 so for a winter tournament, it’s awesome,” Crystal Putek said. “There’s been an out pour of support for this … It’s turned out way better than we could have ever expected I’m just ecstatic. I thought, if we could raise $100 maybe $200 that’d be so great and now I think it’s going to be well over $1,000.”

The tournament raised money with the $25 player registration fee, $5 lunch, field throw off for $1 per disk and raffle baskets. Each of the 18 holes were also sponsored by local businesses.

Kathy McDaniel, Andrew Wilkinson and Tiah Marcis from the Augusta chapter of the DAV were present at Saturday’s tournament.

Jen “Muz” Muzerolle plays during a Disabled American Veterans fundraiser tournament on Saturday at DND Disc Golf in Sidney. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Wilkinson, who works as a national service officer for the DAV, addressed the crowd before the tournament began.

“For those of you in the crowd who are unfamiliar with who we the DAV are let me take a moment to tell you about us,” Wilkinson said. “DAV is a nonprofit charity that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families, helping more than 1 million veterans in positive life changing ways each year. Annually, the organization provides more than 600,000 rides to veterans attending medical appointments and assists with well over 200,000 benefit claims.”

Wilkinson noted that the work the DAV does relies heavily on charity events such as Veterans for Vets.

“These essential services are made possible only by the extraordinary generosity of caring individuals like yourselves here today,” Wilkinson said.

In addition to transportation services and claims assistance, the DAV provides veterans with connections to employment opportunities according to Wilkinson.

“We’re here to help veterans understand the process so they don’t feel like they’re left out and alone,” Wilkinson said.

DAV has 1,300 chapters across the country with more than one million members and all services provided to veterans are free.

McDaniel, the lead secretary for Augusta’s DAV chapter, said she was surprised at the turnout for Saturday’s event.

“I didn’t realize disc golf was so big,” McDaniel said. “But it is pretty huge and I’m just really happy I think it’s great what she (Crystal Puket) is doing here, raising money for the DAV.”

Course owner Tom “Moose” Tillson is seen during a Disabled American Veterans fundraiser tournament on Saturday at DND Disc Golf in Sidney. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Tom and Tammy Tillson, owners of DND Disc Golf, opened the course in 1998 and hold charity events around six times a year.

“Our two biggest (events) are Maine Children’s Cancer (program) and breast cancer,” Tammy Tillson said.

But thanks to the hefty turnout on Saturday, the Tillson’s will be adding one more event to the annual roster.

“We’re going to have this tournament again next year during the same month,” Tom Tillson said.

“When they asked to have this I thought, ‘OK, why not you’re not going to get many people,'” Tammy Tillson said. “But holy cow, the turnout is amazing.”

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