From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life. — Arthur Ashe, U.S. tennis player and activist
When we are faced with difficult circumstances, it is sometimes difficult to get out of our own heads long enough to think about anyone but ourselves.
Imagine being diagnosed with cancer and the turmoil is magnified.
But what makes one person succumb to bad news and another become resilient? We are inspired by those who not only acknowledge their “despair,” trying to do what they can in their circle of control, but begin to look outward, in ways that can help others.
That’s exactly what Bob Hammer did when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer for the second time in 2001.
He finished 26 rounds of chemotherapy and became a two-time testicular cancer survivor. Still bald from the chemo, but determined, Hammer raised enough money to participate in Lance Armstrong’s Annual “Ride for the Roses” event in Austin, Texas, later that year.
There, he met Armstrong's oncologist, Dr. Craig Nichols, who said Hammer didn’t need the surgery he was scheduled to have at Stanford University Medical Center one week later.
Hammer had been told that if he had the surgery, he and his wife, Kim, could not conceive another child. But now, their daughter, Shayna, has an 8-year-old brother, Josh, and the family lives happily in Danville.
One of the golden lines in Armstrong's book of survival is about the “obligation of the cured” to spread the word to others to help cure cancer.
Hammer took this charge seriously, organizing "Have A Ball" golf tournaments to raise money for Armstrong's foundation and other cancer organizations.
When you visit his “Have a Ball” website, the motto illustrates Hammer's sense of humor: “Chipping Away at Cancer, One Ball at a Time.” With that humor and a few good friends — most notably fellow cancer survivor Steven Seaweed from local radio station “The Bone” — “Have a Ball” Golf Tournaments began and have grown considerably since the beginning.
Hammer went from raising $50,000 in his first tournament in 2005 to raising $1 million this year.
Every hole has a sponsor, such as John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek and Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation. There are giveaways at nearly every hole and participating golfers pick up a boatload of event sponsored items from T-shirts to hats.
With the greens fees, cart, lunch, dinner and giveaways, Hammer said golfers are getting a $300 experience for a $150 buy-in. Not to mention an investment in a cure for cancer that kills thousands of people every year.
The annual event was held in Sunnyvale last week but the "Have a Ball Foundation" also will host a tournament at Crow Canyon Country Club in San Ramon on Sept. 19 with more than 150 golfers already signed up. Fifty-five corporate sponsors and 100 corporations are involved, making it is one of the largest non-celebrity, privately held golf tournaments in the nation.
Hammer serves on several local cancer-related advisory boards, such as the Wellness Community Bay Area and Second Opinion in San Francisco. When he’s not raising money and organizing details for the annual golf event, Hammer coaches track and field at Carlmont High School in Belmont and often coaches his kids’ teams in softball, soccer and basketball.
For more information on the tournament or how to donate, visit the “Have a Ball” website.