Tom Henke is a famous name in baseball. He even won a World Series during his successful career. But it’s his ongoing commitment to this community that continues to set records.
2019 was a banner year for Henke. Namely, it marked the 25th anniversary of the Tom Henke Charity Golf Classic event in Jefferson City.
In partnership with the Jefferson City Cosmopolitan Club, Henke works with a volunteer committee to put on this celebrity golf tournament every October. A team of four golfers is paired with a celebrity and gets to enjoy a fun day playing golf together. Over the years, notable participants have included professional athletes from the Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues, and even WWE wrestlers. However, at the end of the day, it’s what the charity classic benefits that matters most to Henke.
“When I started this event, I said I was only going to do it for five years, and here we are 25 years later,” he laughs. “I appreciate the Cosmopolitan Club and the Special Learning Center so much! This is a fun event and affordable, but we’re trying to raise money for both of those organizations at the end of the day.”
The planning team has been extremely successful in that endeavor. Over the years, the event has raised a total of $1.1 million for the Special Learning Center and more than $370,000 for the Cosmopolitan Club. Giving back to the Special Learning Center is a topic near and dear to Henke’s heart. His life changed dramatically when his daughter, Amanda, was born with Down syndrome. The Special Learning Center was there to help both Amanda and her family as they worked to give her tools for future success.
“My hope is that we’ve had an important part of enhancing the lives of children with disabilities.”
“She’s 33 years old now, and we’re so proud of her,” Henke says. “This was a gift from God, not a punishment. Amanda showed me that having a bad game of baseball was not a big deal. It put things in perspective.”
The Special Learning Center provides comprehensive, early-intervention services for children with developmental delays and disabilities. Their mission is to expand the abilities of every child. Proceeds from the Tom Henke Classic have allowed them to continue and expand those services to support kids and families in the Jefferson City community.
“I would encourage people to go visit the Special Learning Center to personally see what they are doing for kids,” Henke says. “You can experience it firsthand. It’s a great place. Anyone who has a child with special needs will tell you what a resource it is for this community.”
Henke also points to the importance of the Jefferson City Cosmopolitan Club that plans the golf event and corresponding banquet or concert every year. The mission of this local group, as well as of Cosmopolitan International, is to give back to the community through fundraising and volunteer service with a focus on preventing and finding a cure for diabetes. The golf tournament has been a great partnership with a common goal of helping kids.
“The Cosmos are a small but mighty club, and we’ve organized the tournament for 25 years,” says Cindy Davis, president of the Jefferson City Cosmopolitan Club. “My hope is that we’ve had an important part of enhancing the lives of children with disabilities to become healthy, active, and valued members of our community.”
Davis’ daughter, Grace, attended the Special Learning Center from 1997 to 2002. Grace was born with spina bifida, but with the help of amazing teachers and therapists at Special Learning Center, Grace is a young adult who is thriving.
The planning team, including Davis and Henke, are already in full swing with planning for October. The 26th annual Tom Henke Charity Golf Classic is set for October 11 and 12, 2020, at Meadow Lake Acres Country Club in New Bloomfield.