In East Palestine, Ohio, a chemical spill hit the home of legendary golfer Annika Sorenstam.
Mike McGee is the son of four-time PGA Tour winner Jerry McGee and husband of LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam. McGee grew up in East Palestine, Ohio, along with his older sister Michelle.
A freight train loaded with toxic chemicals derailed in a small town on February 3, causing environmental and health concerns for residents.
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Mike’s ties to the area run deep. His mother is a native of this district and has been a school teacher for 20 years. His father was a volunteer basketball coach. Jerry McGee died two years ago at the age of 77.
Although Mike and Annika no longer live in the area, they are still involved in the community. “My mom has friends to talk to and it feels like the world is ending every day,” Mike said.
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Sorenstam and her husband lend a helping hand when the community is in dire straits. The couple founded the Annika Fore 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 businessman Ed Muransky, owner of The Muransky Companies.
“What happened and is happening in East Palestine is a tragedy that breaks everyone’s hearts,” Sorenstam said. “Mike’s connection to the area brings that pain to our doorstep. His first job out of high school was at the Lake Club, and my father-in-law was a veteran there after he retired from the Champions Tour.”
Mike wonders what is happening to his hometown, which has a population of less than 5,000 according to the 2020 census.
“It’s amazing,” Mike said. “The most important thing is to clean the soil and water.”
The promotion includes a celebrity golf outing at The Lake Club in Poland, located 15 minutes from East Palestine, Ohio, in May.
“Mike and I wanted to do something to help his hometown during this difficult time, and Ed was his first call. He’s very charitable and ran with the idea,” Sorenstam said.
“East Palestine is such a tight-knit community that I’ve enjoyed visiting over the years. We’ve even had two of our children baptized there and then held our receptions at the Lake Club, so this charity event is all about us.”
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All money raised will be donated to the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley Foundation to support East Palestine.