By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
“They were looking for a sucker, and I didn’t realize it.”
That was how Jim Bono became involved with the committee that organized the fundraising tournament for the local hospital, and later, Reba’s Ranch House.
Jim had no regrets after getting roped into helping wrangle the annual affair that featured celebrities from Dallas Cowboy players to up-and-coming country music stars. And of course, Reba always made an appearance.
Ronnie Cole, who was on the committee from the first year onward and was later chairman of it, recalled, “Reba would ride around on a golf cart visiting each team. That meant a lot to everyone. A couple of times, she stayed to hand out trophies. It was huge to have a superstar like her spend time with us.”
But long before prizes were awarded, a load of work faced the 15 committee members and dozens of volunteers. After months of planning and coordinating, Memorial Day morning started on the golf course at 6AM for Jim and Ronnie. Some years, they slogged through muddy terrain to prepare for the 18 teams and 180 golfers. But in over 15 years, the tournament was never rained out.
Before the 9AM tee time, they welcomed celebrity golfers like Micky Mantle, Troy Aikman, Barry Switzer, and Vince Gill, though the country music singer had to leave early to prepare for that evening’s Reba concert.
Not everything was a hit with the participants, nor the committee. Ronnie and Jim still scoff about the “infamous yellow ball” contest.
“It was awful,” Ronnie said. “I don’t know whose idea it was, but I’m going to blame Jim.”
“I don’t know who to blame, but we want to blame someone for it,” Jim said with a laugh. “Like we needed something else to make the day longer.”
The bad idea was a scramble tournament where every team had a yellow ball to keep track of. If you lost your yellow ball, you were out, and the team that came in with the lowest score won a prize.
“People got so tired of keeping up with their yellow ball, they’d hit it out of bounds on purpose,” Ronnie added.
There was plenty of success at each tournament, especially the number of sponsor prizes given out that ranged from umbrellas to golf shoes. The committee was proud of the number of women golfers who competed.
“We had prizes for women only,” Jim said. “Very few tournaments do that.”
At the end of each tournament, the committee kicked back and talked about the day, accessing what went well and what didn’t. The putting green and high number of prizes remained over the years, and sometimes the committee quadrupled their fundraising goal.
“I think people took an interest in the cause, which was the ranch house,” Jim said. “The house is one of those things you hope you never have to use, but you’re so glad it’s there when you do. We felt like we had a small piece of something to help others for years and years to come.”
“That’s what I think back on, the legacy of having the ranch house,” Ronnie said.
The work Ronnie and Jim put in, along with many committee members and volunteers, pays dividends today. Seven days a week, weary caregivers take refuge in Reba’s Ranch House during some of the stormiest days of their lives.
Become a caregiver of caregivers today by contributing here to the daily operations of the house.