Georgia Tech Hall of Fame golfer Nicholas Thompson was like many Americans who were gripped and heartbroken by the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. The tragedy was more personal to Thompson than most, though, as he is a graduate of the Parkland, Fla., high school.
So it was that Thompson and his wife, Christen, who graduated with Thompson from Stoneman Douglas in 2001, determined that they had to do something. Specifically, the Thompsons wanted to use his status as a professional golfer to raise funds and awareness.
“Golf has given me a lot to me, and it’s nice to be able to give in other ways,” Thompson said. “It’s an unfortunate situation, but I’m able to use my name, my resources to try to help the situation.”
The PGA Tour calendar provided Thompson, a longtime tour member now on the Web.com Tour, a useful stage to help him bring attention and donations to the victims and their families. The Honda Classic begins Thursday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., about 45 miles north of Parkland and close to Thompson’s home.
While he came up short Monday in his attempt to qualify into the field, the tournament is permitting him to set up a booth where he’ll pass out bracelets with “#MSDSTRONG” printed on one side and “Eagle Pride” on the other in exchange for a donation to a fund set up by the Broward County School District to assist victims and their families. Thompson said he ordered a batch of 3,000, but then followed it up with another 5,000.
“I’ve already had people asking me for them by the 10’s and 20’s,” he said.
The Thompsons also made 400 maroon and silver ribbons for players, wives and caddies to wear during the tournament. He expects that a majority of players will wear the ribbons, which the tour will place at the first and 10th tees for players as they begin their rounds.
“We did like a little assembly line,” he said. “I cut ’em, she would pin ’em and then I would write ‘MSD’ on ’em.”
Thompson said that the tournament also was providing an opportunity for players to make personal donations to the fund.
“(Tournament organizers) have been absolutely great about it,” Thompson said.
Thompson, 35, was inducted into Tech’s sports Hall of Fame in 2016, recognition of a career in which he was twice named an All-American and twice helped Tech to second-place in the NCAA Championship, in 2002 and 2005, his freshman and senior years. Professionally, Thompson has played in 228 PGA Tour events and won $5.7 million and an additional $800,000 on the Web.com Tour.
Thompson has good memories of his time at Stoneman Douglas and remains friends with several classmates. Thompson was actually two years behind one of the victims of the shooting, football coach Aaron Feis, and had mutual friends.
Thompson said he will be at the course “bright and early” Thursday morning.
“I want to raise awareness as much as possible, and I’d like to raise as much money as possible for the victims’ families and that fund,” he said.
To make a donation, visit the GoFundMe page set up by Thompson. Contributions will benefit the fund set up by the Broward Education Foundation to provide relief and support to victims and their families.