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GIANT EAGLE LPGA CLASSIC Lopez receives gift for charity



Published: Wed, July 17, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The contribution from Mahoning Valley Sports Charities will go to AIM for the Handicapped.

By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

GIRARD -- A standing ovation and a check for $12,000 overwhelmed Nancy Lopez Tuesday.

A Hall of Fame golfer playing in her final full season on the LPGA tour, Lopez was honored at the Pro-Am Draw Party at Holiday Inn Metroplex.

She also was presented with a check for $12,000 by Mahoning Valley Sports Charities that will go toward the charity she supports, AIM for the Handicapped.

"She's an ambassador for women's golf," said Tim Wicinski, tournament director of the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic. "Everyone is just looking for a way to say thank you."

When she was introduced and the check presented, Lopez walked to the podium and cupped her hands to her mouth.

"That's a lot of money," she said. "This means so much, from the bottom of my heart."

Meets many kids

Lopez's involvement in the charity has allowed her to meet many kids.

"I get to see where the money goes," she said. "It helps them overcome some type of handicap, and it also helps their parents. The $12,000 will go a long way for us."

Being involved in the charity has been a rewarding experience for Lopez, 45.

"When I see the little kids and they give me a big hug, you wonder why God put you here," Lopez said. "When they tell you they love you, it's worth all the time and effort."

A highlight film of Lopez's career also was shown at the party. From her first set of golf clubs to her 48th victory on the LPGA tour, Lopez's career was remembered.

"I'm planning to play in a few tournaments next year," she said. "Maybe my game will be ready for Youngstown and I'll be able to play."

Still, Lopez wasn't about to guarantee where next year will lead her. She does, however, know where she has been and what the people around her have meant.

"Without you," she said to the hundreds in attendance, "I don't have a job on the golf course."

richesson@vindy.com




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