A couple who turned the pain of losing a son into a desire to help college students pursue their career goals has been honored for their dedication.
Chattahoochee Technical College recognized Alan and Claire Peterson of Cobb County for their 15 years of fundraising by presenting them with the 2018 Volunteer of the Year award Oct. 8 at the 15th annual Mike Peterson Memorial Golf Tournament at the Cartersville Country Club.
The Petersons have organized a golf tournament every fall since 2003 to celebrate the life of their son, Mike, an automotive enthusiast who died in 2002, and to help Chattahoochee Tech students as they prepare to step out into their new careers.
"Alan and Claire Peterson's steadfast commitment for so many years has been truly inspiring,” CTC President Dr. Ron Newcomb said in a press release. "We are sincerely grateful for their impressive work to make a difference in the lives of Chattahoochee Tech students. Their support and dedication has succeeded in changing lives."
Newcomb presented the couple with a glass sculpture at this year’s tournament to thank them for their many years of dedicated service in raising more than $146,000 by hosting the annual golf tournament in memory of their son.
"We are both humbled and honored with the award," Peterson said. "We had so much help along the way from family and friends such that we could not have done this ourselves."
The successful fundraiser evolved from humble beginnings, according to Peterson.
"What started as a small gathering of friends to just go play golf and remember our son planted a seed to make this into something much larger, recognizing our son's passion for cars," he said. "The rest is history."
This year's tournament netted "just shy" of $18,000 and brought in 104 golfers, 20 hole sponsors and several large corporate sponsors, he added.
In the past decade-and-a-half, the memorial tournament has raised and donated funds to the Chattahoochee Tech Foundation to buy tool sets — each worth thousands of dollars — for CTC students who are completing the automotive technology, diesel equipment technology and automotive collision repair programs.
"We wanted to assist students who share an interest with our son in automotives," Peterson said. "We also wanted to identify assistance not covered by the HOPE or other scholarships. After talking with one of our son's friends employed in automotives, it became clear that a great set of tools helped make students employable in the marketplace. Thus our decision to buy tools for graduating students."
While they've had a good run, Peterson said the tournament held earlier this month was the final one.
"With over 100 graduates from CTC now employed in the greater Atlanta area with a great set of tools, we are extremely proud and so indebted to family and friends who have helped us for the past 15 years," he said. "Even though the tournament held recently is our last, we will be awarding tool sets for another three to four years."