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Chucky Mullins golf tourney returns for seventh year

In a couple of weeks, golfers from throughout the area can tee off to support students’ education and remember an influential and inspirational athlete.

The seventh Chucky Mullins Memorial Golf Tournament will be held May 13 at Twin Pines Golf and Country Club, with all proceeds supporting the Chucky Mullins Memorial Scholarship Fund. The tournament and scholarship fund are coordinated by the Russellville High School Class of 1988 – Mullins’ class.

Mullins was a Russellville native who, while playing football for Ole Miss, became a quadriplegic after a tackle-gone-bad on the gridiron at Vanderbilt University. He died in 1991 following a pulmonary embolism. His story has inspired many.

“He touched everybody in some kind of way,” said Rosell Hamilton, the force behind the institution of the tournament.

“I don’t think he’d believe all this came about because of him,” added Sabrina Wood, another ’88 alum who is active in helping coordinate the tournament each year. “He wouldn’t think this could happen just because of him.”

“He’d be very humbled,” Hamilton agreed.

The tournament came about as a way to honor Mullins’ legacy and assist students who exemplify Mullins’ character traits: being a leader, inspiring others and being a caring friend.

The tournament is a three-man scramble that will begin with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. May 13. Sign-up and lunch will precede the tournament, beginning at 11 a.m.

Cost to play is $75 per player, and the funds raised, as well as funds collected from sponsors, go toward scholarships for Russellville High School students.

“It all goes back to the kids,” explained coordinator Mike Stone. “To be able to apply for a scholarship, they write an essay and turn it in to the school, and they turn them over to us, the Class of ’88. We sort through and read the essays.”

Stone said the Class of ’88 feels the tournament is “something we can do to give up back, and it’s something we enjoy putting on.”

Since the first year, the tournament has continued to grow, to the point where the Class of ’88 is considering expanding it to a two-day tournament one day. Sign-ups are currently capped at the first 36 teams. With the growth of the tournament has also come growth in the ability to help RHS students.

“When we first started, our main thing was that every time we grew, the scholarship would grow,” Hamilton said. Organizers are hopeful they will be able to offer five $2,000 scholarships this year.

“We’re finally starting to see some of the rewards – some of the kids that are finally coming back to us,” Hamilton said. “One of our recipients, Jonas Boyles, is now actually going to start working on the committee. It’s going to be neat. It’s really nice.”

The Class of ’88, Hamilton said, is one of the largest graduating classes of RHS, and tournament coordinator are hopeful more of their fellow classmates will get involved, both to help organize the tournament and to support the scholarship winners – who become honorary members of the Class of ’88.

“There is something about the bond the Class of ’88 has,” Hamilton said. “Once they become a recipient, they become ours. They become one of Chucky’s kids.”

Teams and sponsors have returned year after year to participate in the tournament and support the cause. Coordinators thanked Twin Pines for providing the venue.

Of course, there is one more person who is closely associated with the tournament, and that’s Brad Gaines – the Vandy player Mullins tackled, that led to his injury. Gaines, Hamilton said, “has been with us from day one. The month of May, he might as well live here.”

She added, “He’s part of ’88 now. We can’t make a move without saying ‘Brad, what do you think?’”

Gaines comes to Russellville multiple times yearly – for tournament, to present awards and to visit Mullins’ gravesite.

“His life has probably been affected more than any of us,” Stone said.

“He honors Chucky every day of his life,” Hamilton added.

For more information on the Chucky Mullins Memorial Golf Tournament, to sign up or to find out about sponsorships, call Stone at 256-366-7389; Bucky Rea at 256-412-6693; or Hamilton at 256-335-3663.