The chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio hit legendary golfer Annika Sorenstam deeply.
Mike McGee is the son of four-time PGA Tour winner Jerry McGee and the husband of LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam. McGee grew up with his sister Michelle in East Palestine, Ohio.
A freight train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in the small town on February 3, prompting environmental and health concerns among residents.
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Mike’s ties to the area run deep. His mother is from the area and was a school teacher for 20 years. His father was a volunteer basketball coach. Jerry McGee died two years ago at the age of 77.
Although Mike and Annika no longer live in the area, they are still connected to the community. «My mom has some friends that she talks to and she feels like the world is ending every day,» Mike said.
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As the community faces an uphill battle, Sorenstam and her husband are helping. The couple created the «Annika Fore East Palestine» campaign.
According to Golf Week, the campaign is the result of a partnership with Youngstown Mahoning Valley United Way, The Way Station and businessman Ed Muransky, owner of The Muransky Companies.
“What happened and continues to happen in eastern Palestine is a tragedy that hurts everyone’s heart,” Sorenstam said. «Mike’s connection to the area brings this suffering right to our doorstep. His first job in high school was at the Lake Club, and my father-in-law was the emeritus pro there after retiring from the Champions Tour.»
Mike continues to be shocked by what is happening to his hometown, which reported a population of less than 5,000 in the 2020 census.
«It’s shocking,» Mike said. «The important thing is the soil and the water treatment.»
The campaign will include a celebrity golf event in May at The Lake Club in Poland, Ohio, which is 15 minutes from East Palestine, Ohio.
«Mike and I wanted to do something to help his hometown during this time of need, and Ed was his first call. He’s very philanthropic and he went with the idea,» Sorenstam said.
«East Palestine is a tight-knit community, and I’ve enjoyed my many visits there over the years. We even had our two children baptized there and then held our receptions at the Lake Club, so this fundraiser closes our day.» circle».
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All money raised will go to the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley fund in support of East Palestine.