By Joel Hall
Local leaders, politicians, and members of the southside business community, came together Tuesday for the fifth year in a row to support the children's programs of Arts Clayton.
The Fifth Annual Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury Golf Classic Invitational took place at the Crystal Lake Golf and Country Club in Hampton. This year, 22 teams participated in the tournament, many of them representing the most successful businesses in the Southern Crescent.
Money raised by the participants will go toward funding the operation of the Arts Clayton "Arts Van," a mobile arts learning center filled with art supplies, puppets, and other materials. The funds will also support Arts Clayton's 15 after-school programs, and various pre-kindergarten programs.
This year's sponsors included Chick-fil-A, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia National Produce, Heritage Bank, Georgia Power Co., and Southern Regional Health System.
Allan Vigil, owner of Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury, said the tournament is a fun way to give back to the community.
"This area has been good to us," said Vigil. "We've had two dealerships in 25 years, so its a way to give back. It's all local people .... it makes it a good day for a good cause," he added.
"We've been a sponsor of Arts Clayton for 20 years," said Mike Vigil, son of Allan, and president of Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury of Fayetteville. "It's a way to get out, have some fun, and raise some money for Arts Clayton."
The younger Vigil said promoting the arts is not only good for local students, but also good for tourism, and a way to bring dollars into the area.
Linda Summerlin, of Arts Clayton, said one unique feature of the tournament is it incorporates the work of local artists. Arts Clayton exhibitors donated pieces of their artwork as raffle items for tournament participants. Local artists designed the event's information brochure, as well as the trophy given to the first-place team.
"We involve our artists and we are securing our children's programming," said Summerlin. She said the tournament "reinforces to the community what Arts Clayton does and what we are all about."
Ron Shipman, region manager of Georgia Power, Metro South, was participating in the tournament for the first time. He said arts learning is vital to the development of students. "I feel like it stimulates the whole brain," said Shipman. "Being a former musician, myself, I felt it was something that helped me with the learning process. I think arts are an integral part to children's learning."
Grant Wainscott, executive director of the National Museum of Commercial Aviation, has attended the golf tournament every year since its conception. He said the event has grown, not only in size, but in the caliber of players participating.
"It's really becoming one of the best golfing events on the Southside," said Wainscott. "Instead of most competitions, where it's just people who play golf, this is a tournament of people who play golf, and care about the community. To have this kind of financial commitment, especially in this economy ... it shows their dedication to the Southside."