RICHLAND -- Alonzo Mitz competed in Monday's long drive competition one-handed, unable to swing his golf club with both hands because of years of wear and tear on his shoulders.
But for the former Seattle Seahawk -- one of nearly three dozen celebrities teeing off for autism at the ninth annual Olie and Stu's Desert Bash at Meadow Springs Country Club -- the event wasn't about his golf game.
"What Olie and Stu have done here for autism is phenomenal," said Mitz, who played for the Seahawks from 1986-89. "I think with what Olie has started here is going to be something that will allow kids to smile. This is fun. I love golf, but the cause is what makes the difference."
This year marks the ninth year of the Desert Bash, hosted by former Tri-City Americans and NHL stars Olie Kolzig and Stu Barnes. Over the years, the event has raised more than $1 million -- including nearly $250,000 this weekend.
Never miss a local story.
The live and silent auctions brought in more than $150,000, while event sponsorships and donations accounted for the rest.
"It went really good," said Kolzig, whose son Carson, 9, is autistic. "I think it exceeded what we expected. I shouldn't be surprised, I say it every year about this community. It was a great event, everyone had lot of fun and the weather is beautiful."
The money raised from the event helps Mid-Columbia families with resources and education through the Carson Kolzig Foundation and the Responding to Autism Center in Kennewick.
"We are pretty excited," said Kellee Balcom of the Carson Kolzig Foundation. "The money raised will do a lot for the center and for grants for other agencies. What's really special about this event, is not a lot of people who participate have kids with autism, but they trust Olie and Stu and their loyalty is amazing. This event makes services possible for a lot of families. We don't turn anyone away."
After Sunday's first round, Heritage Landscaping, with the help of former Seattle Seahawk Charles McShane, had the top score of 107 in the Manager's Division. Former Portland Trailblazer Bob Gross and his CH2M Hill team were at 109.
At the end of the second round, CH2M Hill won the division with a two-day total of 216, followed Heritage Landscaping (219) and Tyler Weiman's Bank of the West team (219).
In the Players Division, Mission Support Alliance, with the help of Tri-City Americans associate coach Terry Virtue, finished first with a 235. Babcock Services with NCAA referee Dick Cartmell were second at 236 and Strategic Capital Alternatives (239) was third.
Kolzig's US Bank team finished fourth in the Players Division at 241.
"With this event, it's a meet and greet and I forget to take time to go on the range and hit some balls," Kolzig said. "I started to get it together on the back nine (Sunday). This is my second year playing with US Bank, and they are a good group of guys, but I seem to bring them down a bit. We get a lot of the same teams and celebrities that come out every year and they want to play with the same celeb they had before. A lot of friendships are being made."
Mitz's team was six strokes off the lead heading into the second round, no thanks to him.
"It was Zo who showed up yesterday and Alonzo is showing up today," Mitz said with a smile. "Hopefully I can put it all together." His team finished with a 235.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who spent four years with the Tri-City Americans, had his Lampson/SunPacific Energy team 10 strokes off the lead going into the final round of the Manager's Division.
"I've only golfed three times this year," said Price. "We are going to have to put our red shirts on today."
Price and his team faltered in the second round, finishing with a 231.
Barnes, an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars, didn't have a great first round with his Kadlec Medical Center team, finishing near the bottom of the standings. But at the end of the day, no one remembers the scores (two-round 255).
"It has been a good event," Barnes said. "We've had some new faces and they are impressed with how fun it is. It's great to see the young kids like Drew (Owsley) and Jordan (Messier) come down. They are representing the Americans well."
NOTES: Owsley, the Tri-City Americans starting goalie, won the long drive competition with a blast of 324 yards. ... Former Portland Trail Blazer Darrall Imhoff, 71, hit a hole-in-one Sunday on the 170-yard, par-3 No. 6. In 50 years of playing golf, it was his first ace. ... Tom O'Brien, Kevin Cox, Jeff Grover and Wally Kennedy tied for top honors in the putting competition.
* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574; firstname.lastname@example.org