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7:13 PM Fri, Nov. 16th

Hotshot golf tournament organizer says proceeds will go to wildfire causes within the coming weeks

PRESCOTT - The organizer of two golf tournaments that were planned as fundraisers to benefit the families of the fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots said this week that the effort has been the victim of misunderstandings and misinformation.

Ben Schaub, the organizer of the tournaments through the Arizona Foundation for Charitable Support, said Monday, Oct. 19 that he and other volunteers worked on the golf tournaments for two main purposes: To commemorate the lives of the 19 Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill wildfire in June 2013; and to help the families of the fallen 19, as well as the wildfire community.

Schaub, who could not be reached for comment last week, said Monday that he plans to distribute the proceeds, totaling about $2,000, to related organizations in the coming weeks.

He declined to disclose the names of the organizations, noting, "We're in discussion with several charitable entities now." He added that the non-profit Arizona Foundation for Charitable Support also would "absolutely honor any request from (Hotshot) family members."

Meanwhile, Schaub said the fundraising effort has been under an unfair attack. "It's hard for me to be heard over all of this criticism," he said.

He was referring to the media coverage this past week in which representatives of Prescott Firefighters Charities claimed that none of the proceeds from the two tournaments were ever turned over to the intended charities or the families.

In an interview on Friday, Oct. 9, Ray Maione, chairman of the Prescott Firefighters Charities, said his organization had allowed the Arizona Foundation for Charitable Support to use the copyrighted Hotshot logo in 2014, with the understanding that the proceeds from the tournament would go to the Prescott Firefighters Charities - and ultimately, to the families.

But Maione said the Prescott Firefighters Charities had yet to receive any of the proceeds, despite making a formal request for the money.

Schaub maintained, however, that "As of today, despite all of the press, and my reaching out ... I have not received a request from a family member (other than one request that was later canceled)."

Maione also said Schaub's fundraiser continued to use the Hotshot logo in 2015, despite never passing on the proceeds from the 2014 tournament, or getting renewed logo authorization for the second year.

But, as Schaub explained it, "We were granted permission to use that logo. It was open-ended, because they knew it was an annual tournament that would just build and build and build."

Schaub said he has since apologized to Prescott Firefighters Charities for the misunderstanding over the logo, and has agreed not to use it again.

At the first tournament in May 2014 at the Prescott Lakes Golf Course, Schaub said the proceeds totaled about $3,000.

Then, when the Arizona Foundation for Charitable Support conducted the second annual tournament in September 2015, Schaub said the number of golfers was down considerably - to less than 50.

"Golf tournaments are very costly," he said. "We came out at a loss this year. That's OK, because we had proceeds left over from last year."

After covering the losses, he said about $2,000 remains.

"We're getting criticized for not raising as much money as expected," Schaub said. "That's kind of like criticizing the Girl Scouts for not selling as many cookies as expected."

He emphasized that neither he nor the dozens of volunteers who worked on the tournaments have profited from the fundraisers.

And Schaub maintained that the golf tournaments accomplished their goal of commemorating the lives of the fallen Hotshots. "We had an incredibly beautiful ceremony with an honor guard and a 21-gun salute," he said.

Schaub said he plans to announce the names of the recipients of the tournament proceeds by the end of October.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-642-0951.