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MLK Golf Tournament to feature legendary Falcons quarterback
Steve Bartkowski - photo by Photo provided / Coastal Courier
A former quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons is expected to play in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Golf Tournament Saturday.
The scholarship fundraiser enters its fourth year tomorrow at the Cherokee Rose Golf Course in Hinesville.
In the past, the tournament has attracted one or two celebrities and this year's tournament is no exception with former Atlanta Flacons quarterback Steve Bartkowski set to tee with the team representing the Hampton Island Preserve.
"It's a tremendous boost to the tournament and the level of participation we've gotten from the community to have someone like Steve Bartkowski play in our fundraiser," Kenny Howard said. "Being a former football athlete myself I'm thrilled to death."
The tournament, hosted by Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas, hopes to exceed the funds it raised last year. Proceeds fund scholarships to the area high school graduates.
"This is part of the MLK Association's effort to give back to the community," Kenny Howard, association member, said. "One of the things we were trying to do is raise funds to give to high school seniors to go towards their education. Some kids are trying to further their education, but sometimes that is more costly than some of our young kids and their families can afford."
He said Velma Tyler came up with the idea and is tournament chairwoman. Howard has been involved with the tournament since it started.
Last year the golf tournament had 14 teams and raised enough funds for seven, $1,000 scholarships. Howard said almost double the number of teams have signed up this year and 10, $1,000 scholarships may be offered.
Scholarship applications are available at Bradwell Institute and Liberty High School.
"The committee will go through the applications and review the individuals and see if they qualify based on grades essays, and other criteria," Howard said.
Bartkowski is affiliated with Hampton Island and is an avid golfer. He said he became addicted to the game since he started playing back in 1978.
"Mayor Jim Thomas reached out to Hampton Island Preserve regarding the event and we chose to participate because the tournament is for a worthy cause," Bartkowski said. "It's part of our nature to be good neighbors. I play in charity golf tournaments all the time. It's a wonderful way to raise money for a worthy cause."
"I had an opportunity to meet Steve a while back and he is just a great person," Howard said. "Not just a former athlete. He is a very genuine person and it says a lot for the credibility of what we are trying to do."
Bartkowski said he feels cheated if he doesn't get in at least one round of golf a week and was delighted to play in an area so close to Hampton Island.
"This is one of the most beautiful and best-kept secrets along the Georgia coast," he said. "There are so many things about this area that speak to my soul. I love the wild and beautiful marsh areas that are home to an incredible variety of fish and wildlife. It just feels like home to me."
Tee time is 1 p.m.

About Steve Bartkowski
NFL quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons from 1975-1985.
Bartkowski led the Falcons to their first ever play-off game in 1978 and again in 1980 and 1982. He still holds virtually all passing records for the Falcons.
NFL quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams in 1986.
He was a consensus All-American his senior year in 1974 at the University of California, Berkeley.
Bartkowski is one of only seven quarterbacks in NFL history that have achieved two consecutive (back-to-back) 30-touchdown passing seasons (1980 & 1981) at least one time in their career. The others are Brett Favre, Dan Fouts, Jeff Garcia, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Y.A. Tittle. Bartkowski was selected to the Pro Bowl after both the 1980 and 1981 seasons and was selected second team All-NFC following the 1980 campaign. Bartkowski led the NFL in passing in 1983 with a passer rating of 97.6.
He hosted the "Backroad Adventures with Steve Bartkowski" on TNN. He was also the host of a top rated outdoor series called "Suzuki's Great Outdoors with Steve Bartkowski" on ESPN for three years.
(Sources and

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