Drive, Chip and Putt participant Avery Zweig raises funds to help children with cancer

Courtesy of Ivan Zweig

Drive, Chip and Putt participant Avery Zweig raises funds to help children with cancer

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Drive, Chip and Putt participant Avery Zweig raises funds to help children with cancer

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the March 2018 print issue of Golfweek Magazine.

Avery Zweig of McKinney, Texas, will be at Augusta National on April 1 to take part in her second Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.

The 11-year-old is already a winner. She has helped raise roughly $250,000 to fight pediatric cancer.

How did a child make that happen?

Three years ago, Jeff Ballard, Zweig’s school custodian, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Fundraising efforts began for the beloved Ballard, but Zweig realized more was needed.

“I said, ‘We should do something for him,’ ” she said.

It soon came to Zweig and her father, Ivan, that they could get people to pledge a certain donation for each of her victories in junior golf. The initiative would be known as the “Win Green for Jeff” campaign.

Zweig’s dad helped get her in contact with people who might donate, but she would make the pitch. A partnership with the 2 Seam Dream Foundation, founded by the elder Zweig’s college buddy Rick Greene, made the donations official. By the end of 2015, nearly $8,000 was raised for Ballard.

The following year it became the “Win Green for Cason” campaign for 2-year-old cancer patient Cason Crow. Four other junior golfers joined in fundraising – with proceeds going toward the Crow family and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The campaign’s popularity exploded when it was mentioned on-air during the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.

The next day Zweig took in a Masters practice round and was recognized so often she actually received about $500 in donations from patrons.

“They’d give me like $100, walking up and giving me money, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God,’ ” she said.

In 2017, 50 junior golfers became part of the cause, now standardized as “The Win Green Campaign.” Fundraising efforts moved away from pledging for tournament wins and toward the 50 participants being active – via calls, public speeches, etc. – in soliciting donations (with a grand-prize raffle to offer). A fundraising golf tournament, the Sirois Shootout, was added as well.

A year earlier, $29,000 came in for the Cason campaign. In 2017 the Win Green initiative raised more than $200,000 between cash and in-kind donations. (Benefits in 2017 were split between The Sadie Keller Foundation and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.)

The main goal for 2018 isn’t a new number, but the campaign’s concept staying consistent.

“We just want to do something nice for other people,” Ivan said.

His daughter declared after Year One she hoped to raise $100,000 … by the time she graduated high school.

Soon after, the Sirois Shootout raised $102,000 alone. What Avery created has a proud dad gushing.

“I literally place no limits on her,” he said.

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