Tampa Bay Buccaneers

18 Holes to Africa

An impressive turnout of celebrities and generous citizens made the Fifth Annual Derrick Brooks Celebrity Classic a huge success for the Brooks’ Bunch and its travel plans

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LB Derrick Brooks attracted such celebrities as Emmitt Smith and Roy Jones, Jr. to his fund-raising tournament

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks is once again gearing up to take members of his Brooks' Bunch on an educational field trip to Africa.

The students who will be going on the trip this summer have been selected, the classes on African culture and history are almost complete and the plane tickets have been ordered. One more important step: This week, a successful fundraising effort took place that will allow 33 young students to share in the experience of a lifetime.

The Fifth Annual Derrick Brooks Celebrity Classic took place at the Old Memorial golf club in Tampa on May 1-2.

On Sunday, May 1, Brooks hosted a pairings party that included a silent and live auction, as well as the matching of a celebrity with each foursome of golfers registered to play in the next day's tournament. That part of the evening held a pleasant surprise, as the show of support for Brooks and his educational program was so great that many foursomes ended up with two celebrity golfers.

The evening was highlighted by a portion of the live auction during which Brooks, former Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals running back Emmitt Smith, Buccaneers Head Coach Jon Gruden and Tampa Bay's recent first-round draft choice, Carnell Williams, were auctioned off as celebrity golfers. Groups of golfers could bid on having Brooks, Smith or the duo of Gruden and Williams as teammates for Monday's golf scramble.

The tournament began bright and early Monday morning with a 9 a.m. shotgun start. While most teams were busy concentrating on getting the ball in the hole, some of the golfers turned to sport of a different kind. Byron Velvick, professional bass fisherman and host of his own fishing show on ESPN, and Roy Jones, Jr., current IBF light heavyweight champ, grabbed a rod and reel when they discovered that the large pond on Hole #4 was stocked with bass. Velvick and Jones then engaged in some friendly competition to see who could catch – and release – the most fish.

Meanwhile, the rest of the tournament participants competed for some individual hole prizes such as a car or a yacht charter in the event of a hole-in-one. By about 2 p.m., all the scorecards had been turned in, and the golfers ate lunch while the final numbers were tallied.

Brooks announced winning groups in both gross and net scores, and the winners received helmets signed by Brooks. In the end, all of those who participated in the tournament were winners for supporting such a great cause. Thanks to the money raised over the weekend, Brooks and his Bunch can enjoy 10 days in South Africa, and they can all share in experiences they otherwise may never have known.

"I really appreciate everyone who came out and showed their support," Brooks said. "The money raised at this tournament really helps the kids get to Africa and have those experiences that are so important to their growth. It was a very successful event this weekend, and I look forward to accompanying another group of students on this exciting trip to Africa."

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