Folks who attended the “Wings and Wishes” benefit auction, dance and dinner for the Make-A-Wish Foundation on Sunday night were treated to a performance by an up-and-coming Little Rock talent, Bailey Hefley.
Bailey and her mom, Lisa, wrote and performed a stirring song in memory of a child who had been in the Make-A-Wish program. For those unfamiliar with Make-A-Wish, the organization raises money to make a dream come true for a child who is suffering from a life-threatening illness. The “Wings and Wishes” night, held at Central Flying Service, raised more than $100,000 and preceded a celebrity charity golf tournament Monday at Maumelle Country Club, which also helped raise more money for Make-A-Wish.
Bailey is only 14 and wears braces, but she has occasionally performed at the White Water Tavern on Seventh and Thayer streets, where she will be on Thursday, July 28, with her band at 8 p.m., preceding a show by Chuck Gatlin. Bailey first performed there at age 11, and on Thursday she’ll welcome sister Hannah, who doesn’t turn 12 until August, onto the stage as well.
She told us Monday night, at a barbecue after the golf tournament, that she writes her own country-flavored songs and mixes in a few covers of tunes by such Nashville notables as Alison Krauss. Her father, Bill Hefley, is a local orthopedic surgeon and helped sponsor the two-day event. His golf scramble team, led by celebrity Joe Kleine, won the first flight.
My team, led by celebrity Preston Dennard, a former National Football League receiver with the Los Angeles Rams, was two shots off the pace set by Kleine and Hefley’s team. Hefley’s brother, Kyle, a lawyer with the local Mitchell Williams Selig firm but based at the firm’s Rogers office, had already gotten himself and another team member accustomed to the ridiculous heat wave that made Monday so stifling by playing 54 holes in Branson, Mo., during the weekend. (Coincidentally, I was also in Branson last weekend but stayed in the pool.)
Dennard, who lives in Albuquerque, and many of the celebrities were treated to a Sunday round at Maumelle to get acclimated to the course and Arkansas’s version of heat and humidity.
The outgoing Dennard, who plays golf occasionally and holds a celebrity tournament back home, had some good stories, such as his signing a free-agent contract for the then-whopping sum of $1,500 (he says he doesn’t begrudge any of the athletes signing for millions today) or seeing an angry Rams linebacker Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds sawing a car in half and gaining a nickname in the process.
Really, a 110-degree heat index is too high to be doing anything outdoors, but for whatever reason golfers risk it anyway. My team had the long-hitting Kelly Davidson, a local Shelter Insurance agent, to at least make the round enjoyable from a playing perspective, while Dennard, Dr. Keith Bennett, Steve Qualls and I contributed here and there.
“You look really hot, Jim,” Bennett observed on our 11th hole of the day, No. 4. He wasn’t talking about my appearance or snappy golf attire, at that point soaked through and through. No, I was probably as red as a Razorback T-shirt, but thank goodness I never stopped sweating (I’ve already done the heat-exhaustion-and-IV-fluid thing a couple of summers back at Tunica). Soon, a cool breeze of about 90 degrees cut through the course and we all had our second winds.
Water, sport drinks and beer for the really brave were continually being routed around the course by the Make-A-Wish volunteers. Apparently, everybody made it through without heat stroke, Pat Bradley’s team shot 55 and got carded out for first place by a bunch of “pros,” and several golfers and volunteers hung around for a barbecue dinner out on the course under a grove of trees.
Before we started the round, though, a youngster from Arkansas Children’s Hospital sang “God Bless America,” and more than a few golfers got sniffly or wiped away a tear or two. At that moment, you understood there were things more important than a few missed birdie and eagle putts, of which we had a several.
John Daly had brought the Make-A-Wish tournament to Maumelle after it started in Memphis, but started his own foundation tournament in Dardanelle this year. With only three months to put on the tournament and its PGA star not involved, the Make-A-Wish group had some other folks step up big to put on a fine two-day event. The biggest part was seeing the smiles on kids’ faces inside the Maumelle clubhouse during Monday’s luncheon.