PHOENIXVILLE — The rain may have washed out the 21st annual Dick Vermeil Invitational Golf Tournament, but it did not dampen the festivities.
More than 130 golfers, including former professional players and coaches from local teams like the Eagles, arrived at the River Crest Golf Club for a two-hour breakfast meet-and-greet.
The tournament was scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m.
The tournament raises money for the Chester County Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Richard Cuth, the director of development for the council, said there are about 6,500 boys in the Chester County Council.
Although the participants never got to tee off, the dinner and auction still went on. This year, more than $200,000 was raised for the Boy Scouts in Chester County.
With that money, Cuth said nearly 800 boys will receive financial support so they can continue to participate in scouting.
“We’ve been the sole recipient for 21 years,” Cuth said about the donations from the participants.
“The end result is that we are changing lives of the youth who are recipients of the proceeds of the event,” he said.
Former Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Dick Vermeil was approached 21 years ago to be the face of the fundraising effort.
“Through the efforts of many, many wonderful people, volunteers and friends we’ve turned it into a very, very successful tournament,’ he said.
Although Vermeil does not play in the tournament, he gets the chance to meet everyone there.
“I will stay on one hole, and greet everyone and that is where I get to meet everyone personally,” Vermeil said.
Vermeil said that Kevin Reilly contributed to the continued success of the tournament.
Reilly, who played for the Eagles from 1973-1975, took over the tournament four years ago. He said he enjoys getting to meet all of the participants as well as bringing former Eagles players back. Reilly said there were about 35 golfing celebrities this year.
“The guys that played during the 70s and 80s are very close because we stayed on the same team for a while and because of that there is a camaraderie there that is just very, very special,” Reilly said.
Some of the former players who attended the tournament did not come to golf but joined the group for the dinner just to see old friends and teammates.
That sense of camaraderie was evident as pouring rain, thunder and lightning pushed almost all the players off the patio and into the dining room.
Bill Bradley was drafted by the Eagles in 1969 and left the organization in 1976, settled in with former teammates for his second year at the tournament.
Bradley played for Vermeil during the 1976 season.
“Dick said, ‘hey man, you should come out to our golf tournament,” Bradley said. “It is a blast.”
Bradley said that the dinner on Monday night hosted by the Vermeils let old players reconnect even more.
A friend of Bradley’s ran the local Boy Scout troop in New Braunfels, Texas and he was a scout for a few years when he was younger.
Although Bradley said he wasn’t going to golf, he was going to be out on the course and may step in to putt a few times, but the weather never cleared up.
“When you play here in Philadelphia, it’s like a big family,” said former A.J. Feely who was at the tournament for the first time.
Feely and his wife, three-time gold medalist Heather Mitts, were waiting to hit the links. Although Feely was not a scout, he thinks that the organization does great things for kids.
“I think organizations like that are key to kid’s development,” he said.
Vermeil echoed the support of his fellow participants and Eagles alumni for the Boy Scouts.
“I really believe the Boy Scouts are a great reinforcement program for families and their kids,” Vermeil said. “It reinforces the family, it reinforces the school, it reinforces the sports team, it reinforces the church ... it’s just a great overall life maturating experience for kids.”