Several years ago, 21 to be exact, Dr. Michael Tucker, who has his medical practice on Westminster Street in Lehigh Acres, saw a need for funds to help people who were not able to afford the medications that he prescribed, many of which were meds that could save lives.
He and his staff began a golf tournament to raise money just for that cause and the money made at the golf tournament was put in a special fund of its own only to be used for folks who needed help, something that Dr. Tucker is very concerned about.
On Saturday, Oct. 12, the 21st annual Dr. Tucker's Annual Golf Tournament is scheduled at the Majestic Golf Course at 350 Homestead Rd with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. Player s should be there no later than 7:30 a.m., said Mariann Gaydos, who has helped promote and spread the news about the golf tourney for years.
"It's really a good cause in this community and Dr. Tucker is so concerned when there are patients, and today, there are more than ever, who needs meds and they don't have the money or their insurance companies or Medicare doesn't always pay enough.
Gaydos thought last week would be a good day to promote the tournament since it was Dr. Tucker's 59th birthday, and she came up with a big surprise "Over the Hill" sign outside his medical offices off of Homestead Rd.
Tucker may be one of the physicians with the largest list of patients in Lehigh. At one time, Gaydos said he had as many as 6,000 patients.
"He probably has the oldest and still working medical practice in Lehigh," she said. "Everybody loves Dr. Tucker and his work with the children of the community and his golf tournament to help the needy to purchase meds."
"It is of a great concern to me when I prescribe medication for my patients and I learn that they can't pay for them. Patients have told me in the past that they have had to cut their pills in half to make them last. We don't need for them to do that. They should take what is prescribed.
"And this fund set up by the golf tourney is a god-send for our patients who don't have the extra money to buy their meds. When I know they can't afford their medications, I let the pharmacy know and we take the money from the special fund we have set up. It is not in my name but in a special account for just that reason. And I appreciate all the efforts by people who participate in the golf tournament to come up with the money after all the expenses are paid," he said.
Mariann Gaydos said she has been a helper just to see and help out.
The golf tournament's chairman is Mary Raymond.
She has sent out letters to business leaders and others in Lehigh to make the Tucker Charity Golf Tournament known and has told those who may give that their past that their generosity has enabled those who are less fortunate to receive medical care, prescriptions and financial help.
"We are once again asking your assistance in making this year even bigger and better. We have added a hole-in-one Ford car prize and much more," Raymond said.
Sponsors for a hole are $50 and Mariann Gaydos says there is still time for sponsors to come aboard and there is time to offer gifts in many of the giveaways after the gala tournament.
If you would like to help, make checks payable to Dr. Tucker's Charity Golf Tournament and mail to Mary Raymond, 60 Westminster St. Suite A, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936.
And for tickets call 368-1808.
Sam Galloway's Ford dealership in Fort Myers will give away a white Mustang to someone who may be lucky enough to make a hole in one, every golfer's dream.
And Gaydos said there could be other cars given away, but those plans are not set in concrete yet.
Many in the community also donate prizes for the golfers and visitors.
Home Depot at Six Mile Cypress Parkway has donated one of those big outside gas grills. It will be raffled off after the tournament, which is expected to last most of the day.
Gaydos said Dr. Tucker has told her that sales personnel of medications from the many drug companies used to hand out large samples to doctors. But, according to Gaydos, that is not happening any longer.
Usually, she said, those free samples were often passed out to patients who didn't have the means to pay for their medications.
"So that is why Mary Raymond, the chairperson is working so hard to make this year's Tucker's Charity Golf Tournament a success.
Gaydos said there will be hotdogs at the golf course and meals inside the Majestic for the golfers.
"We're hoping for a good turnout for Dr. Tucker because he does so much good for the community. At times like we are having now, there are more and more people who are suffering from the economy and it is very important that patients who have financial problems be able to get their medications.
"Not every doctor is like Dr. Tucker. He cares for his patients and always has and that is why this tournament has been going on for so many years, to help his patients financially. We encourage everyone who loves to play golf to become involved and others to be sponsors. It all will go for a great cause," Gaydos said. "We want a lot of visitors, too."