Ben Sater had vowed that before he went off to college, he would raise $1 million for the Dallas children's hospital where he had received free treatments as a child.
After eight years' worth of fundraising golf tournaments for kids, the soon-to-be Austin College freshman has reached the goal, with nearly $19,000 to spare.
Organizers announced Monday that they've raised $1,018,842 for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, an orthopedic center that treats patients free of charge.
"We got it," the now 18-year-old told the group of kids gathered in McKinney on Monday for the second KidSwing tournament of the summer.
Later, smiling under the hot summer sun as the kids who spent the morning golfing splashed in the pool, he said he initially didn't even consider the possibility of raising so much money. The first tournament in 2003 raised about $20,000.
Sater said, "$1 million never even crossed my mind."
But over the years, the tournament grew in popularity — the McKinney location was added three years ago after the original Dallas tournament kept filling up. Once the tournaments had raised around $500,000, Sater realized $1 million was possible.
The tournaments are for kids 7 to 18, so this was Sater's last year to play. But he said the tournaments will go on and he'll still be involved.
"It's a little bittersweet," said his mother, Kim Sater.
She said one thing that's always amazed her was the amount of money the kids were able to raise. One girl, who has also been a patient at the hospital, has raised more than $50,000, she said.
To play, each child is asked to raise $100 by getting sponsorships from friends and family. This year, about 140 kids participated in the tournament Monday in McKinney, located just north of Dallas, and more than 300 played in the Dallas tournament in June.
J.C. Montgomery Jr., president of Scottish Rite, said that the tournament does more than raise money, it also makes many new friends for the hospital.
He said the money raised this year will go to help patients who have hand issues.
The tournaments, he said, stand out among fundraisers for the hospital because of the involvement of children.
"They run it; they raise the money," he said.
The tournament has a kids committee and an adult committee. The children's duties include choosing the T-shirt design and fundraising prizes and helping set the day's program.
Sater, who graduated from high school in Plano in June, became a patient at Scottish Rite at the age of 3 when he had surgery on a pinky and thumb for a condition called trigger finger, which causes fingers to lock or catch in a bent position. He had surgery again at the age of 10 on three more affected fingers.