GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Aug. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Representatives with the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft today deemed the inaugural tournament a success with a $600,000 donation to the retailer's Simply Give program, which advances its mission of helping Midwest food pantries restock their shelves and improve the quality of life within the region. Rookie superstar Mirim Lee of South Korea took home the trophy at the inaugural LPGA Tour event, which took place at Blythefield Country Club Aug. 7-10, but the real winners are the families who will benefit from the donation.
"From the great weather to the enthusiastic crowds, the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft was a complete success in its first year and will have a longstanding impact for a long time coming," Meijer President J.K. Symancyk said. "The tournament afforded us an unmatched opportunity to raise awareness and funding to address hunger in the Midwest. We cannot thank the community enough for the way they embraced this tournament to help make a difference to those in need."
While attendance figures are not yet available, representatives from Meijer and the LPGA said the tournament exceeded expectations of a first year event.
"We are thrilled with the response and turnout that we received from the Grand Rapids community at the inaugural Meijer LPGA Classic," LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said. "With that continued community support, and the backing and vision of our partners at Meijer, Kraft and Blythefield Country Club, we look forward to building a new tradition in West Michigan that will only get stronger over time."
Meijer began its Simply Give program in November 2008 and has since generated more than $9 million for its food pantry partners. The contributions donated as a result of the Meijer LPGA Classic are due, in large part, to the generous Meijer customers who attended the tournament week events, and the sponsors who helped make the event a success.
The $600,000 donation will be divided among the retailer's estimated 200 food pantry partners participating in the fall Simply Give campaign, which runs through Sept. 27. Of that total donation, $40,000 will be divided equally among four food pantries chosen by Carla Hall, co-host of ABC Daytime's lifestyle series, "The Chew," after winning the Meijer LPGA Celebrity Chef Cookoff presented by Kraft. Carla beat out two other nationally-acclaimed chefs – Cat Cora and Gail Simmons – after the event's guests voted on their favorite menus. Hall chose the following food pantries to receive $10,000 each:
- Love, Inc.
- United Church Outreach Food Pantry
- North End Community Food Pantry
- Northwest Food Pantry
"Without the Simply Give program, our shelves would literally be bare," said Waverly Knight, assistant director of Northwest Food Pantry in Grand Rapids, which feeds about 150 families each week. "Every week, there are new families coming to our pantry, some of which have never been inside a food pantry. Life happens a little too much, and we are very grateful for how the Meijer Simply Give program helps us feed people in our neighborhood."
To participate in the Simply Give program, customers can purchase a $10 donation card at their local Meijer store, which will be converted into a Meijer food-only gift card and given to the food pantry selected by the store. Meijer will stretch every customer's donation further Sept. 4-6 in recognition of Hunger Action Month. That means for every $10 donation card purchase, Meijer will contribute $20, resulting in a total $30 donation.
To learn more about the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft, view a video that highlights the week's many activities and the significance of the donation. In addition, please visit the Meijer Newsroom for more information, including sharable photos.
A crowd of enthusiastic fans lined the ropes at Blythefield Country Club Aug. 7-10 to watch a competitive field of 144 world-class golfers play 72 holes of stroke play. Ultimately, Mirim Lee claimed her first LPGA Tour victory with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff against fellow South Korean Inbee Park. Lee tamed the course, carding a 2-under 69 to match Park at 14-under 270. Park, the former world No. 1 with four major championships, was outpaced by one shot, closing with a 70.
"I was 100 percent nervous because (it was) my first time in playoff on LPGA so I'm really nervous, but very fun," Lee said. "Inbee is like a hero in Korea. She is a very good player so I try to follow her."
The inaugural tournament marks the LPGA Tour's first stop in Michigan since 2000 when the Oldsmobile Classic in East Lansing ended its 9-year-run, as well as the first annual golf event in Michigan's Lower Peninsula since 2009 when the PGA TOUR hosted the Buick Open in Grand Blanc.
About Meijer Simply Give
Meijer is a family-owned retailer based in Grand Rapids, Mich. with a fundamental philosophy aimed at strengthening the communities it serves. Meijer operates 213 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, and proudly donates more than 6 percent of its net profit each year to charities throughout the Midwest. With hunger as a corporate philanthropic focus, Meijer partners with hundreds of food banks and pantries through its Simply Give and food rescue programs. Meijer also supports education, disaster relief, and health and wellness initiatives. For additional information on Meijer philanthropy, please visit www.meijercommunity.com. Follow Meijer on Twitter @twitter.com/Meijer and @twitter.com/MeijerPR or become a fan at www.facebook.com/meijer.
About Blythefield Country Club
Located just north of Grand Rapids, Blythefield has been providing families the best golf and social experience in West Michigan since 1928. With the Rogue River flowing through, Blythefield boasts one of the most beautiful championship layouts in Michigan. Previously, Blythefield has hosted the 1953 Western Amateur, the 1961 Western Open, won by Arnold Palmer, and the 2005 Western Junior won by Rickie Fowler. Beginning in 2014 Blythefield is honored to host the Meijer LPGA Classic. Learn more about Blythefield Country Club at www.blythefieldcc.org.
About the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association)
The LPGA is the world's leading professional golf organization for women. Founded in 1950, the association celebrates a diverse and storied membership with more than 2,300 members representing more than 30 different countries. With a Vision to inspire, empower, educate and entertain by showcasing the very best of women's golf, LPGA Tour Professionals compete across the globe, while dedicated LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals (T&CP) directly impact the game through teaching, coaching and management. The Symetra Tour consistently produces a pipeline of talent ready for the world stage. The LPGA is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Florida. Follow the LPGA on its television home, Golf Channel, and on the web via: www.LPGA.com, www.facebook.com/lpga.official, www.twitter.com/lpga, and www.youtube.com/lpgavideo.
About Octagon Global Events
Octagon Global Events is a division of Octagon, the world's largest sports and entertainment representation and marketing agency. Octagon Global Events focuses on premium event/property management, providing strategic corporate solutions. The division currently manages two Champions Tour events, two LPGA Tour events and the Toyota Texas Bass Classic. For more information, visit http://www.octagonglobalevents.com.