By Jasmine Willis
DANSVILLE — Empire Strikes Back Against Cancer Benefit honors the memory of Jon Shay at Brae Burn.
On June 12 all proceeds gathered from this golf tournament went to Noyes Health Foundation in Jon Shay’s memory for the renovation of the third floor. There were 104 players and 50 new sponsors for the Fourth Annual Empire Strikes Back Against Cancer Benefit held at Brae Burn. Brae Burn is the third oldest golf course of its kind in the country. The Shay Family played in his memory. Friends and community members came out to talk about his dedication to this great cause and the hospital. Shay passed away Jan. 18 of this year.
Robbin Smith, Empire Realty Group Agent said cancer has hit everyone in the area in a personal way and this event is about giving back. The 50/50 raffle goes to Vincent House every year. Everyone has some connection to that place as well.
Bob Smith, Empire Realty Group Agent said the event has totaled in raising about $30,000 and gathered tremendous support from the communities over the years.
Bridgett Hoag, Empire Realty Group Agent said she came up with the idea for this benefit after the agents enjoyed playing golf together. They wanted to help the hospital and had all been impacted by cancer in some way.
“We chose to honor the memory of Jon Shay this year. He was always the first person to donate to this cause and come out to golf. He was a big part of this event. The hospital is going to have the third floor renovated in his name,” Hoag said.
Brae Burn Golf Director Denny Hartman recalled Jon Shay being his best friend and an important person in his life.
“Jon Shay was my best friend. He helped me get one of my first jobs working at the Shay Services before getting involved with law enforcement,” he said. “This is near and dear to my heart. He would come out to golf here a lot. He was always one of the first to give money to these great causes. He loved baseball. He was a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers. He would love that the Dansville Gliders came out today.”
Robbin Smith said the event has become so popular that they fill up within 10 minutes of posting. There are often people on the waiting list to play. The community also supports with sponsorships and basket raffles.
Last year Covid-19 shutdowns made it hard on everyone, so the event was done virtually. Even so, there were people who came from all over the country. They raised nearly $13,000.
Hartman said anytime the golf course can be used for a great cause it makes them feel honored. He mentioned how Brae Burn is one of the few that received a 100 Year Anniversary Plaque from the U.S. Golf Association. It hangs proudly on the walls.
The ones who started this golf course over 120 years ago were the sons of Nicholas Noyes. They wanted to play golf in their own fashion, so created their very own course. It only had four holes at the time. This connected everyone together. A painting of Ray Knapp can be found on the walls. Hartman pointed out he was the golf celebrity of the era in the 1800s.
Hartman added the relationship between Noyes Physical Therapy and Brae Burn has been
wonderful in the new spot. The doctors and nurses enjoy having lunch at Scovill’s.
The Dansville Gliders came to enjoy some lunch and mingle with the locals at the event. The Smith family has invited two cousins to live with them from Queens and Manhattan. Robbin Smith said they are very respectful and are a wonderful influence on her family.
Kaitlyn Hoag, Shay’s granddaughter, said she came out to honor her grandfather’s memory.
“I am here to honor my grandpa. I came out to play with my grandma. I think this is a great way to honor his memory. He would love to see the shape the golf course is in this year. I was happy to help out last year in the virtual event. It was so much fun,” she said. “I believe what they will be doing at the hospital is great. There is no better way to honor my grandpa. He loved being there for anything they achieved. He was always supporting them.”
Dan Mastasio, Empire Realty Group Realtor said he and his family run the Livonia branch. It was his first time golfing and being part of this event. Mastasio said he felt lucky to be part of the event.
Jennelle Zonnevylle, Empire Realty Group Agent said it was her first time being part of the event as well. She is the newest member of the team. It was a honor for her to help for such a great cause.
Agnieszka Bajan, Empire Realty Group Agent came all the way over here from Poland. She and her husband are high school sweethearts who worked for the same company overseas. When they both were sent to America for work, she became pregnant with her first child. Bajan looked for a better job to be able to be home more for her child. This is when she found enjoyment in Empire Realty Group. Her work allows her time with her children and to do something she loves.
The Empire Realty Group Team put together this event in hopes to shed some light on Noyes Hospital and Vincent House. They are very thankful to everyone who helped out with this event.