Teaching kids the fundamentals of golf and showing them how to parlay it into a successful life and career are the reasons why Joe Louis Barrow, CEO of The First Tee and executive vice president of the World Golf Foundation, decided to lend his support and voice to an event at the Diamond Run Golf Club last month.

FOR THE CHILDREN— From left; Jerry Lopes, Steeler great L.C. Greenwood and Joe Louis Barrow were on hand to raise money for scholarships and help educate youths on lifelong values.

The World Golf Hall of Fame is an international initiative that celebrates and honors golf’s greatest players and contributors. The Golf Hall of Fame Museum, located in St. Augustine, Fla., boasts interactive exhibits and historic and personal exhibits that tell the stories of its members and the game of golf. There are about 130 members.

“We teach kids how to set goals and how to get to the goal and how to set specific objectives and how to get from here to there,” Barrow said. “We put it into a golf context and apply it to other parts of their lives because we’re touching people who otherwise wouldn’t know about the game of golf. We’re using it as a platform to show young people to respect other people and each other because if they do that we’d be a better society.”

Barrow, the son of boxing great Joe Louis, was exposed to the game of golf around the age of four. It was a way for he and his dad to bond after his parents divorced.

“Being on the golf course for three or four hours with my dad was the only private times that I had with him. When he’d take us out to lunch or dinner people took time away from my dad. Throughout my life, people said to me how important my dad was to them. Getting involved with First Tee is my way to do a minor contribution to the world because I love playing golf and I love helping kids,” Barrow said.

Before joining The First Tee, Barrow served as president and CEO of IzzoSytems, Inc. and directed all of the company’s operations both nationally and internationally. He served in the position from 1992 to 2000.

Prior to his years at Izzo, Barrow served as adviser to Ronald H. Brown, chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1989 to 1992. In that position Barrow managed joint ventures and strategic outreach. He has been working in marketing, business and public service for more than 35 years.

That love of golf and his passion for helping children is why Barrow joined the First Tee organization about nine years ago. The First Tee is an arm of the World Golf Foundation. The First Tee affects the lives of youngsters by creating educational programs that promote character development and lifelong values. The program, which has 206 chapters in 49 states and five international locations, instills confidence, integrity and judgment in kids by using golf as the platform. The First Tee was created in 1997. Since its inception, the organization has introduced the game of golf to more than three million participants and more than 2,800 elementary schools in five international schools through the character education program. There are three chapters throughout the Pittsburgh area—Pittsburgh, Sharon, Beaver Falls and Mahoning Valley in Ohio.

The event last month brought out some of Pittsburgh’s high profile citizens including Franco Harris, L.C. Greenwood and Mel Blount.

“It was very successful,” said event host, Jerry Lopes, president of American Urban Radio Networks. “I was very pleased with the event. We had it to spread awareness about The First Tee and the World Golf Hall of Fame.”

Pittsburgh was the first stop on a six-month nationwide tour that includes Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York.

(For more information on The First Tee visit http://www.thefirsttee.org.)

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