By David Klein

Monday, September 23 at Holston Hills Country Club, the Rick Barnes Emerald Youth Golf Classic was held to raise money for the Emerald Youth Foundation. Tennessee Basketball Head Coach Rick Barnes donated a $50,000 check to the foundation, and 120 golfers played in the tournament. More than $175,000 was raised to benefit the Emerald Youth Foundation.

It was the 21st annual Emerald Youth Golf Classic. According to the website, the Emerald Youth Foundation’s mission is to raise up a large number of urban youth to love Jesus Christ and become effective leaders who help renew their communities. The Emerald Youth Foundation is in its 28th year of serving the Knoxville urban youth community.

Emerald Youth Foundation CEO and President Steve Diggs said, “What we’re trying to do is build a foundation for the youth of this city. That’s what’s so great about Knoxville. People care about children in this city and they make their caring count. They prove it in this tournament.”

Diggs continued, “We have an urban church ministry, we do sports, we launched Knoxville’s first charter school. We also have a focus in trying to support families across the city. It’s a whole child development organization. Our focus is on youth that live inside the city.”

Barnes, who serves on the Board of Trustees and is in his fifth year of involvement with the golf tournament, emphasized the role of the golf tournament and the part that the Emerald Youth Foundation plays in kids’ lives.

“It means a lot how we’ve grown the tournament,” Barnes said. “What Steve Diggs does with Emerald Youth is really amazing. What they do, the principles they’re (Emerald Youth Foundation) trying to instill in these young kids is really something that I think all of us in Knoxville should be proud of. This town has great people, very unassuming people that I think want to see this community continue to grow. This is a great program, it really is, and to be a part of it over the last couple of years and watching it grow, I’m excited about it and I’m excited about the future because I know the more that we can affect these young kids, the better off it’s going to be for all of us,” Barnes stressed.

Diggs said about Barnes, “He’s a generous man. We’re fortunate that he did not leave Knoxville. He cares really deeply for children. He has a real heart for Christian ministry and city kids and we’ve been fortunate to be a vehicle for him to give back here in the community and to serve. We’re very grateful he’s in town.”