RICHLAND -- Today is expected to be one of the warmest days the Tri-Cities has had this summer, which can only mean Olie and Stu's Desert Bash is teeing off.
"At least the sun is finally coming out," said Olie Kolzig, co-founder of the event, now in its 10th year. "But it won't be 115 degrees like it has been in the past."
Hockey, football, basketball and baseball celebrities will be on hand today and Monday at Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland to raise money for the Carson Kolzig Foundation, whose primary services are delivered through the Responding to Autism Center in Kennewick.
Last year, the Responding to Austism Center helped more than 700 families.
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Through June this year, more than 200 new families have benefited from the resources the center offers.
Over the last 10 years, the golf tournament has raised more than $1 million dollars, including $275,000 last year.
"Obviously, it starts with having good people in place," said Kolzig, whose 10-year-old son Carson is autistic. "Kellee Balcom is a fantastic person. A lot of credit goes to her for the way the foundation had gone. We have a great committee with a lot of passion. The amount of hours and the time it takes adds up. They believe in the cause, and the people who attend believe in it. It shows in the amount of money we raise every year."
Kolzig and Bash co-founder Stu Barnes headline the list of celebrities at the event. Also hitting the links are Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, former NFL defensive lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen, NCAA basketball official Dick Cartmell of Richland and Pasco native Jeremy Bonderman, a right-handed pitcher who spent eight years with the Detroit Tigers.
"Carey is back. He's made a lot of friends in this town and a lot of people still root for him," said Kolzig, who got in a practice round Saturday with Byron Dafoe, Jeff Halpern and Rob Krauss. "It's great that Jeremy can join us. Normally, it's tough to get baseball players. He had a great career with Detroit and a lot of local people follow him. Kimo will be attending for the first time. It should be a lot of fun."
Bonderman said he's only golfed once in his life, but that's not what the weekend is about.
"I wouldn't go if it was just about golf," Bonderman said. "I don't like golf, but I do it for the right reasons. This is a good cause and I'll do what I can to help."
Bonderman isn't sure what he donated for the auction.
"My wife (Amber) gave them something," he said.
Cartmell has been a fixture on the course for as long as the Bash has been in existence.
"I think I've done them all," said Cartmell, who has officiated five Final Fours and three NCAA title games. "It's fun to meet the guys, and it's nice they would come to the Tri-Cities to support Olie and Stu. They run a great event to hopefully raise a lot of money. I'm just trying to help out."
Cartmell has donated a signed poster from Michael Jordan's fantasy basketball camp. Among the signatures you will find Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
Also on the action block is an original David Arrigo oil painting of Price and Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban. Arrigo has done the artwork for Price's hockey masks, and those of many other NHL goaltenders.
The players will tee off for the first round at 8 a.m. today. The second round will be at noon Monday.
* Annie Fowler: 582-1574; firstname.lastname@example.org