Now in its 32nd year, the annual American Heart Association (AHA)’s Golf Tournament brings together the area’s senior executive leaders to support the mission of the American Heart Association (AHA). AHA funds critical research, education, and community programs that lead to healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. This year’s tournament is dedicated to raising awareness of heart disease in women and the “Go Red for Women” campaign.
A leading IT executive, community leader, and avid golfer for many years, Marty Cummings, CEO of Integrated Support Systems, Inc. shares his personal stories about why he supports the AHA and how he marries his love of golf with AHA’s important mission.
WashingtonExec: What made you want to become involved and serve in a leadership role with the American Heart Association?
Marty Cummings: First of all, it is truly an honor to serve as Chairman for this event. I’ve been involved in charities and golf tournaments for many years but this is certainly the pinnacle of those activities. I am truly honored.
For me it is very personal. I almost lost my father a number of years ago due to heart disease. We finally got him to the Cleveland Clinic which was one of three places in the United States that could perform the operation he needed. I am convinced that what they did was a direct result of the medical research and funding provided by the American Heart Association (AHA). It was just a natural fit for me to raise funds to help the AHA continue the important work that they do.
I believe passionately in the mission of building healthier lives that are free of cardiovascular disease and strokes. When you consider that heart disease is the number one killer in the nation and strokes are not far behind at number 5—the AHA mission takes on a significance that is personal and universal.
WashingtonExec: What made you want to specifically get involved with the golf tournament and then to chair the event? Is this your first year chairing it?
Marty Cummings: It is my first year as Chairman. Last year was my first year on the committee. I enjoyed working with the committee and the staff very much. They are a great group of people.
This is the 32nd year of the golf tournament and our fundraising goal is to $325,000. That’s a big number. We are doing really well for six weeks out. But we still have a lot of work to do and we look forward to the support of organizations like yours to reach that goal. I am looking forward to joining executive leaders who represent many different industries across our region at the tournament.
The tournament will be held at Woodmont Country Club on April 25, 2016. This is a great venue. They have two fantastic 18-hole golf courses. In fact, the U.S. Open holds sectional qualifiers there every year. Last year the Club did some renovation and the updated clubhouse is spectacular.
We have a great agenda for the day, starting with a fully streamlined registration process. All players will receive a pair of golf shoes and a shoe bag, a free Mobil 1 oil change from Mercedes-Benz of Arlington, and a certificate for a custom fitted shirt from Blank Label.
WashingtonExec: How big is the event this year? Has it grown in size?
Marty Cummings: It has grown in revenue we have also seen a diversification in sponsors. We really do hit every industry: government contracting, banking, construction, and law firms, to name a few.
I’ve been involved with a number of organizations over my career and it’s really neat to see so many organizations outside the IT industry involved in this event and to see everybody come together to support the American Heart Association.
WashingtonExec: Are the funds from this event used in a similar fashion to those from the DC Heart Ball? Can you talk a little bit more about how the funds will be used?
Marty Cummings: One of the great things about this association is that the dollars raised fund both local and national efforts.
This is what is important: the AHA has funded research that led to the discovery of artificial heart valves, CPR, drugs that open up clogged arteries, pacemakers, angioplasty, bypass surgery, and medicine to control high blood pressure and cholesterol. The AHA also helped make the connection between smoking and heart disease.
The local AHA team works tirelessly on numerous education and advocacy initiatives, such as legislation that requires CPR training for every high school student. Education and awareness are critical. The AHA is very involved in the community, educating the public about heart disease, strokes, and the effects of childhood obesity.
WashingtonExec: The “Go Red for Women” campaign is something that’s highlighted at the golf tournament. Can you talk a little more about that initiative?
Marty Cummings: That is another cool aspect about this golf tournament. When you consider that heart disease is the number one killer in the nation of both men and women—and strokes are not far behind at number 5—the AHA mission takes on a significance that is personal and universal. These diseases affect everyone: men, women, and children.
Nationwide, we are trying to highlight the fact that more women die each year from heart disease and stroke than men. The golf tournament is specially dedicated to raising awareness of heart disease in women and the “Go Red for Women” campaign.
To that end, we are encouraging as many women as possible to come out and participate. Historically, the tournament has been mostly men and we want to change that, not just on the course but also on the planning committees. We really want to increase the number of executive women to help plan this important event.
WashingtonExec: Are you presenting one of your homemade golf clubs at the auction?
Marty Cummings: Yes, I am. I’m making a very special one for this golf tournament, as I did last year, for the silent auction. I’m looking forward to getting a number of bids on it to help raise money on the day of the event.
I am avid golfer and I have been playing for many years. I’m also a wood worker. Back in 1996 I decided to combine those two of my hobbies and decided I would learn how to make an all wooden golf club. So I went to St. Andrews in Scotland and did an apprenticeship at an old world golf shop. I learned to make an exact replica of a golf club from 160 years ago. It is such a cool thing to do and a labor of love for me.
According to the golf shop at St. Andrews, I am probably one of a handful of people in the world that does this. I consider them pieces of art. I also hand-carve the displays they are mounted on.
WashingtonExec: Is there anything else you would like to talk about today?
Marty Cummings: One last thing: I call on all of my fellow business and community leaders to come out and support the AHA golf tournament! There are a number of ways to do that. You can sponsor a foursome the day of the event and play in the golf tournament and there are also a number of sponsorship packages.
All sponsorship opportunities are on our website at www.AHAgolftournament.org. If you don’t see one you like, we can customize a sponsorship package that will give a company significant brand exposure. All of that would be greatly appreciated. We want to get the word out to as many people as we can.
The bottom line is you can go to the website and make a donation to support lifesaving medical research, advocacy, and community education about heart disease and stroke.