Like most young boys his age, A.J. LaCourse had his vices.
"He liked baseball and football," said A.J's father, Alan LaCourse. "He liked baseball cards and video games, and he loved to play golf. We have three acres in our back yard and I had some clubs cut down, and he and his older sister Ashlea would always play golf."
A.J. never had the chance to become the next Tiger Woods. He died of a brain aneurism on May 7, 2003. He was 12 years old.
"He died on my wife, Kathleen, and I's anniversary, but we kept him alive one more day," Alan LaCourse said. "They wanted to run another test on him, but he was brain dead. We didn't hesitate...We donated four of his organs."
One of those organs was A.J.'s heart, which went to a teenager named Jessica who lived in Oklahoma.
"We met the young girl who got his heart," Alan said. "She would be 20 now. She came with her mom and dad to see us. Her dad, Ed, played in our golf outing in 2007. She had needed a heart ever since she was born. Before she got A.J.'s heart, she'd had a stroke. She is somewhat disabled, but she walks and talks just like A.J."
Alan and Kathleen LaCourse also donated A.J.'s liver and two kidneys.
"A man got A.J.'s liver, and he had four of his own children," Alan said. "Two ladies - one was 51 and one was 61 - got his kidneys. We didn't hesitate to donate my son's organs, because we helped somebody else live.
"My wife and I are both organ donors. We have it in on our driver's license and we have it in our wills. We want to help keep someone else alive, like A.J. did."
To honor their son and keep his memory alive, the LaCourse family established the A.J. LaCourse Memorial Fund after A.J.'s death. The family has helped raise $30,000 in scholarship money to be donated to Eastwood High School students.
To raise money, the LaCourse family held a golf outing for the past six years at Tanglewood Golf Course in Perrysburg. Beginning this year, the Eastwood Educational Foundation has taken over the fundraising duties and will host an 18-hole scramble, called the 7th Annual A.J. LaCourse Golf Memorial, on Sunday, Sept. 13 at Tanglewood.
The EEF is a private, non-profit foundation created nearly 25 years ago to promote and encourage excellence in the Eastwood School District.
"My wife and I used to do this on our own, for six years," Alan LaCourse said of the golf outing. "We raised $30,000 and gave it to five boys and five girls in A.J.'s Class of 2009. As of Aug. 12, when I cash in the CDs, I will take a $30,000 check to Dave Michel, the Eastwood Board of Education treasurer, and the boys and girls can come get their scholarship money."
This year's A.J. LaCourse Memorial Scholarship winners, who will receive $3,000 each, are Zach Lawniczak, David Eaton, James Morlock, Matt Schlumbohm, Todd Haas, Cassandra Fitch, Alyssa LaVoy, Kaitlin Snyder, Brooke Albright and Katie Schuessler.
"We wanted to do something in my son's name," Alan LaCourse said. "That was the easiest thing we could do. We usually had 144 golfers during our golf outing and we'd put two foursomes on a tee. We had a shotgun start at Tanglewood Golf Course.
"The course is right around the corner from my house. The No. 16 hole runs right along the cemetery, and my son faces the No. 16 ladies' tee box."
More than $5,000 was raised during last year's golf outing and was used toward scholarships for three graduating Eastwood seniors.
"A.J. would have graduated from Eastwood in 2009, so our goal this year is to surpass the total amount raised in any of the previous golf outings," said Doug Ruck, a member of the EEF Board of Trustees.
"The LaCourse family had originally intended that last year would be the final year, but they have graciously agreed to let the EEF take over the event and use it to add to the scholarship funds which EEF administers for the benefit of Eastwood students and teachers."
The golf scramble costs $50 per person, which includes 18 holes of golf, a golf cart, prizes, a steak luncheon and beverages.
The community is asked to send all donations to Eastwood Educational Foundation, Attn: Dave Michel, 4800 Sugar Ridge Rd., Pemberville, Ohio 43450. Make checks payable to the same.
For more information contact Dave Michel at 419-287-3217, Doug Ruck at 419-287-3233 or Joel Kuhlman at 419-308-5166.