Through Isaiah and golf, Tesori Family Foundation reach grows

From the First Coast to national, All-Star Clinic has expanded year after year

By Justin Barney - Sports Editor

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - The Tesori Family Foundation started with modest goals. 

One event. Local. Nothing too extravagant.  

Things have changed quite a bit. Their local All-Star Clinic is now making inroads across the PGA Tour. 

Paul Tesori, now in his third year as a caddy for Webb Simpson, and his wife, Michelle, were inspired to start the foundation in 2009 with a broad focus, to give back to those in need. Their charities were diverse back then.

Five years later, that focus narrowed when their son, Isaiah was born with Down syndrome. So, the Tesori’s honed in on children with special needs and their Foundation, and accompanying events, have boomed in popularity, awareness and star power.  

“This event has taken on almost a totally different feel now, it is become like a family now, you see the same faces every year,” Paul said. “Now it’s turned into something that we just can’t wait to be a part of every year.”

The Foundation, now in its 11th year, held its annual All-Star Clinic event at The Players Championship on Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass. Jordan Spieth came out and helped. Others, did, too. Tesori, who played golf at St. Augustine High and later, on the PGA Tour, said that through golf and Isaiah, they've been able to reach and educate so many people through the years. 

“Inclusion is almost the wrong word. It’s education. If you’re educated, it doesn’t matter what, Down syndrome or autism or any other either physical or mental challenge a child might have, or even a young adult might have,” Paul said. 

“The fact that they’re giving to us. They are helping our lives out. They are looking at the world in a much better way than we are. And I think if you’re educated to know that man, there’s so much for them to offer to us so much we can learn. Then I think then you start looking at things in a completely different reality. Know that inclusion, it’s smart on our part so we can learn from them.”

Michelle said that the Foundation’s modest ambitions have grown beyond what they ever expected. 

She said that after an event at the Sanderson Farms Championship last October, the positive traction that the all-star clinic had made its way to the PGA Tour. 

“Paul and I were like, ‘OK, yeah, one more,’” Michelle said. “Turns out [the Sanderson Farms tournament director] headed to the winter meetings for the PGA Tour and they’d like to put one in every city on the tour. So, we are currently working on a playbook to make that happen, so that’s the next goal. Baby steps. Baby steps. Baby steps.”

Added Spieth: “The special needs community like I mentioned is so tight-knit that golf provides just another activity to make new friends and kind of help grow these relationships, it’s really amazing."

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