Why It's Good to be a Heathen
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - John Reilly and Bill Thompson make it a point to hit the links every Sunday morning. "We would see people driving by, going to church or religious services and we chuckled to ourselves thinking, they probably think we're a bunch of heathens," says Reilly.
The name stuck and their golf group at Providence Country Club grew. Reilly, a numbers guy, tallied how much the guys were paying each other through different bets. An idea was born. "Maybe we should give a portion of the proceeds to charity," says Reilly.
The Heathens got halos and organized the Heathens Golf Classic. Last year, they raised $40,000. They're aiming for $50,000 this year. To date, they have granted 14 wishes through the Make A Wish Foundation. Melissa Lillo's son's wish was one of them. "He knew what he wanted to do," says the Gastonia resident. The five-year-old boy with a blood disorder went to Disney with his family. She says, "We'd never done a trip like that. At the time, we had both lost our jobs when Jeremiah was in the hospital."
Jeremiah, now healthy, wants to see the Heathens help other kids and, "I wanna learn how to play golf," he says with a shy smile.
Stories like his inspires the guys to do two things. First, grant as many wishes as they can a year. "My personal goal is 100," says Thompson. And second, turn more golfers into Heathens. Reilly says, "I think the next step would be to start a group somewhere else. There's a lotta country clubs in the area."
The Heathens Golf Classic is Monday, March 25th. It is sold out, but if you'd like to help the Heathens grant more wishes, call Bill Thompson at 704-756-0622.