The chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio, struck legendary golfer Annika Sorenstam.
Mike McGee is the son of four-time PGA Tour winner Gerry McGee and husband of LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam. McGee grew up with his sister, Michelle, in East Palestine, Ohio.
A freight train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in the small town on February 3, raising environmental and health concerns among residents.
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Mike’s connections to the region run deep. His mother is a native of the area and has been a teacher for 20 years. His father was a volunteer basketball coach. Jerry McGee passed away two years ago at the age of 77.
Although Mike and Annika no longer live in the area, they are still attached to the community. “My mom has some friends that you talk to and the world feels like it’s ending every day,” said Mike.
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As the local community faces an uphill battle, Sorenstam and her husband lend a hand. The couple created the “Anika for East Palestine” campaign.
According to Golf Week, the campaign is the result of a partnership with Youngstown Mahoning Valley United Way, The Way Station, and entrepreneur Ed Muransky, owner of The Muransky Companies.
“What happened and is still happening in eastern Palestine is a tragedy that hurts everyone’s heart,” Sorenstam said. “Mike’s connection to the area brings that hardship to our doorstep. His first job in high school was at Lake Club, and my father-in-law was the Honorary Pro there after retiring from the Champions Tour.”
Mike is still traumatized by what is happening in his hometown, which reported a population of less than 5,000 in the 2020 census.
“It’s awful,” said Mike. “The important thing is the soil and water treatment.”
The campaign will include a celebrity golf event in May at The Lake Club in Poland, Ohio, 15 minutes outside of East Palestine, Ohio.
“Mike and I wanted to do something to help his hometown during this time of need, and Ed was his first call. He’s very philanthropic and he ran with that idea,” Sorenstam said.
“East Palestine is a close-knit community, and I’ve enjoyed my many visits there over the years. Our two children even had their baptisms there, and we had receptions at the Lake Club afterward, so this fundraiser brought us back on track.”
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All funds raised will be donated to the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley Fund in Support of East Palestine.
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