Benjamin Villarreal looked over the raucous clubhouse patio Saturday afternoon, over all the smiles and laughs, past the posted scores and a long list of registered names, and over the raffle tickets being handed out from the prize table, and he could see, in the shade from the sun, that it’s already becoming a pretty good summer for the school.
The 17th annual Tee It Up Fore Kids golf tournament benefiting St. Mary’s Central Catholic School in Odessa was another success this weekend, as Villarreal, the school principal, could see from the patio at Ratliff Ranch Golf Links.
More than 30 teams of four filled registration and participated in what Villarreal called one of the school’s biggest fundraisers every year, if not the single biggest, to send the school into summer planning with a boon to its general fund.
“This is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year,” he said, aside the revelry on the patio moments after the round. “It brings in quite a bit of revenue, and all the guys come out. It’s a big deal for the kids, and for them, the parents.”
The school raised additional money at the event with a raffle and a silent auction after the round of golf.
“Our school being as discounted as we are, we rely on fundraisers. … It helps us not have to increase tuition as much as we would need to,” Villarreal said.
And the event continues to grow, he said, both through participation and with sponsors and donors.
“It seems like every year the prizes are getting a little bit better,” Raymond Marrero nodded to the raffle table with a smile. Marrero played in the tournament for the sixth straight year on Saturday. His son went through St. Mary’s for nine years.
“That’s what we love about St. Mary’s, it’s just one big family,” Marrero said. “It brings everybody together.”
Villarreal is finishing up his first school year as principal this week, after a few years as assistant principal, and though he’s seen the tournament grow in his time with the school, former principal Mary Jaramillo has seen it grow for even longer. She first got to the school in 2003 and was the principal for seven years.
“It’s become one of our main fundraisers,” she said.
On top of that, the camaraderie that crosses those 18 holes every year is something else that’s big for the school and its community, she said.
“To see the excitement of the people and the excitement of the players is nice,” Jaramillo said.
“It’s great that we have the money coming in too, but people look forward to it.”