The public doesn't associate too many companies with the word "heart," but here at Southwest, we share our big hearts and LUV on a daily basis. For example, twice a year we host our official corporate fundraisers, the LUV Classic golf tournament and Party, which benefit the Ronald McDonald Houses across our system. A small team of warriors (including me, see photo below) organizes these two huge events each year, but we couldn't do it without the help of an army of volunteers and sponsors.
This year, the 11th Annual Phoenix LUV Classic and Party will be held on May 14, while the Dallas LUV Classic and Party will celebrate its 25th annual event on October 1. Through these tournaments over the years, Southwest has raised more than $11 million for the various Ronald McDonald Houses across our system. We give the money directly to Houses in the cities that we serve; Houses where you often volunteer to cook meals and help. The Houses typically use the money for operational needs such as purchasing beds for the families or for capital campaigns for their expansions since these are the areas that it is harder to find interested donors. This year, proceeds from the Phoenix LUV Classic will go to Phoenix, Tucson, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis. Proceeds from the Dallas event will benefit Dallas, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and St. Louis, which will be the 300th Ronald McDonald House.
All of this started with the generosity of a man and his friends. Joe Miller was a popular Dallas club owner. When he was diagnosed with cancer, several Dallas businessmen (including Herb Kelleher) staged a charity golf tournament to raise money for him. Miller received more money than he needed and asked where to donate the excess. One of the friends was on the Ronald McDonald House Board and suggested this great organization that assisted families with seriously ill children by providing them a home away from home while their child is in the hospital. Wanting to keep the annual golf tournament and party, the group realized they needed help, but were not sure how to best organize it. They asked Colleen Barrett (currently our President Emeritus), who knew just what to do and volunteered one of our best event planners, Ann Hancock, to help. Thus, the LUV Classic was born. Through the years, the LUV Classic has become a beloved and fun tradition at Southwest Airlines.
We look forward to sharing even more of the fun and behind the scenes with you on the LUV Classic, but for now, start making plans to join us in Phoenix or Dallas for this great event. For more information, go to www.southwest.com/luvclassic.