QHS golfers push Birdies for Brain Cancer fundraiser beyond expectations, raise $29,000

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Quincy Public Schools superintendent Todd Pettit, left, and Quincy High School principal Jody Steinke, right, presents the QPS Spirit and Pride Award to four QHS golfers — from left to right, Gabriel Gold, Sophia Gold, Saya Geisendorfer and Issa Geisendorfer — for organizing the Birdies for Brain Cancer fundraiser. | Submitted photo

QUINCY — The goal seemed modest and attainable, with the four Quincy High School golfers who organized the “Birdies for Brain Cancer” fundraiser believing they could raise $5,000.

Yet, as the pledges began mounting, they changed their expectations.

“We thought $8,000 would be a better goal,” Sophia Gold said.

Little did they realize they could have set their sights much, much higher.

With the QHS boys and girls golf teams combining to make nearly 200 birdies during the fall season, the teammates and near-and-dear friends — Sophia Gold and Saya Geisendorfer from the girls squad and Gabriel Gold and Issa Geisendorfer from the boys team — were able to raise $29,000 for the American Brain Tumor Association.

“We are really happy because we never thought we’d raise that much money,” Sophia Gold said. “Ever.”

All the money is designated to help families with loved ones battling brain cancer, something the Golds are intimately familiar with.

Dr. Mark Gold, their father, passed away January 6 at the age of 63. He worked as a board certified neurosurgeon for more than 30 years, spending eight years with the Quincy Medical Group and performing numerous surgeries at Blessing Hospital, and had been passionate since the age of 7 about helping patients with brain cancer and tumors and their families.

In the months after his death, the Gold siblings developed the idea to create a fundraiser through golf to generate support for brain tumor patients and their families. First, they asked and received full support of their mother, Nicole. Then they pitched the idea to the Geisendorfers and the Birdies for Brain Cancer event came to life.

“I think our dad would be really happy with how this turned out,” Sophia Gold said. “We talked to him about fundraisers and doing things for the community, but we never really had a purpose. Now we have something that is really impactful and relates to what we experienced.”

It tempers the grief, too.

“We put our emotions toward doing something to help other people,” Gabriel Gold said.

Added Sophia, “It’s really helped me with his memory and ease the pain. We want to make sure people get the help they need so their families don’t have to go through that and suffer.”

It’s why the American Brain Tumor Association was the right charitable organization to connect with.

The Golds and Geisendorfers benefited from their connection with Lily McNally, a development campaign manager with the American Brain Tumor Association, who provided support and encouragement throughout the process.

“She was kind enough to give us her time,” Sophia Gold said. “She’s been very helpful.”

Moreso, the Quincy golf community and supporters made this work.

“It means a lot that we got so much support from the community and people outside the community as well,” Gabriel Gold said. “We don’t know a lot of them personally, but they thought it was a good enough cause to donate or help out. We’re really grateful for that.”

The girls team, which won a Class 2A regional title and sent two individuals to the state tournament, made 100 birdies during its season. The QHS boys rattled home 92 birdies.

The combined total exceeded expectations in the same way the money raised did.

“When we originally started and we had some close family friends and some family members, too, ask us how many birdies we were going to make, we were estimating close to around 100 total,” Gabriel Gold said. “So we outplayed our expectations even though (the boys team) didn’t have the best of seasons. We didn’t make it as far as the girls team, but we still contributed a lot.

“We’re still glad we raised money and made all the birdies, but hopefully next year the boys team will have more.”

Said Issa Geisendorfer, “We’ll come back strong.”

The group plans to create another fundraiser next fall, whether it is the same Birdies for Brain Cancer idea or an alternate format. Regardless, the camaraderie created between the two teams, the willingness of all of the Blue Devils to pour their heart into it, and the money raised proved the fundraiser is wholeheartedly worthwhile.

The Quincy Public Schools administration took note as well, honoring the four golfers with the Spirit and Pride Award last month.

“Getting together with our team and saying we are going to try our best to work toward this goal — it wasn’t specifically golf because it went beyond the course — made a huge impact,” Saya Geisendorfer said. “We did this to help people and everyone got on board with that.”

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