'It's about helping': PGA Tour Pro Varner III donates to Durham-based SwingPals

26 June 2022

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) — One local organization will have an opportunity to do even more in its community, thanks to the help of a PGA Tour professional.

SwingPals (based in Durham) is a non-profit foundation which aids and assists children who face economic and social adversity. Founder Doug Hodges says the program uses golf as a medium to empower young adults.

“We use the game of golf, but the program is really about mindfulness,” Hodges said. “It’s about helping (our) students develop emotional regulation skills, self-awareness skills.”

Brittany Johnson, an administrator fairly new to the organization, says she can already see its benefits.

“Just seeing the transformation within these children in just the short amount of time I’ve been here, that’s just been so rewarding,” Johnson said.

Thanks to a $10,000 donation from the Harold Varner III Foundation, the program will be able to reach even more kids in the Bull City.

“Just to see a person at that level look back and say, ok this is cool, I’d like to get involved in this-or lend a helping hand feels great,” said Cory Williams, SwingPals coach and board member.

Varner, a native of Gastonia, North Carolina, attended college at East Carolina University, before earning his way onto the most popular tour in the world. Hodges says Varner’s graciousness will only help their organization go deeper into the community going forward.

“For him to see the work we’re doing with minorities, children who lack resources here in Durham, that is so meaningful for us,” Hodges added.

Hodges says SwingPals is currently in four middle schools within the Durham Public School system, with a goal to one day be available in all middle schools city wide.

Visit their website for more information.

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