In 1990, the first year Bobby Mitchell played host to his Hall of Fame Golf Classic to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), 18 Hall of Famers showed up to back the Redskins’ Hall of Famer’s charity efforts.
This weekend – in the event’s 22nd year – at least 50 Hall of Famers are expected to make an appearance at Lansdowne Resort to support the LLS and Mitchell, who is in his final year as the tournament’s honorary chair.
“I’ve had a tremendous run with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” Mitchell said Friday during the event's kickoff event. “I thought if I could bring [Hall of Famers] together, they’d bond just like when they were players. When they take on a cause, their word is good.”
That inaugural Bobby Mitchell Hall Of Fame Golf Classic brought in $40,000. In the 21 years since, Mitchell's classic has raised more than $8 million.
Friday’s special guest, ESPN’S Michael Wilbon, attributed much of the tournament’s success to Mitchell, a Hall of Fame flanker and return man for the Redskins from 1962 to 1968.
“Bobby doesn’t give his name to these things,” Wilbon told the crowd. “He gives his time, his word, his energy and passion, his reputation, and as a result, Hall of Fame players have a vehicle through which they can contribute to this fight.
“Cheers to Bobby Mitchell.”
Friday’s crowd was also treated to another special guest of the weekend: 6-year-old leukemia survivor Julianna Nicholson, whose energy and resilience got her through her diagnosis and treatment.
Julianna and her family will attend all weekend events, including Saturday’s banquet and awards dinner and the main event – Sunday’s tournament round.
The public may participate in the gallery at Saturday’s Golf Classic for just a $5 donation to LLS. Children 12 or under get in for free.
Though the Hall of Fame Golf Classic is expected to continue on as usual, most agree it just won’t be the same without Mitchell there as its host.
But the ever-gracious Mitchell said he knows he’s leaving his tournament in great hands.
“This has been built because of my belief that the best guys out there are Hall of Famers – if they say they’re going to do something, they do it,” Mitchell said. “That’s what makes you come back and come back and come back.”