First Annual Steve Dodson Memorial Charity Golf Tournament Honors Legend

BY: FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ

On Saturday, January 25, the Cabo San Lucas Country Club will host the inaugural First Annual Steve Dodson Memorial Charity Golf Tournament, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., with all proceeds to benefit the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation. 

Steve Dodson, a seasoned golf professional, first arrived in Los Cabos in September 1993, with his wife Debra, a successful real estate broker from Wyoming. 

Steve was offered a golf-pro position at the “yet to be built,” Cabo San Lucas Country Club and worked closely with Pat Dye in building the desert, ocean view, golf course, while his wife settled in and opened the first of three Prudential Cabo Gold Realty offices. 

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“That was truly a landmark experience for us and for Mexico,” said Debra during a Fine Homes and Living Magazine interview of 2013. 

Their Prudential Cabo Gold company and its real estate agents have sold more homes than anyone else in the history of the Los Cabos region. 

“Americans are driving the second home market,” explained Debra. “Globalization and the Internet have enabled them to look beyond the borders of the United States.” 

Los Cabos is truly a place where “American Luxury” meets “Mexican Charm.” According to Debra, there is no safer or more wonderful place to be.

Tragically, Steve passed away two years ago on Friday, March 10, 2017. Steve solemnly believed that "God is first, others are second, and I am third," and lived his life in exactly that simple, humble way. He was always ready to lend a hand to family, friends and strangers. He not only was a great teacher of the game of golf, but also passed on many of his life lessons and shared much of himself. Living by the mantra, "If it is to be, it is up to me." Steve later served as the Director of Golf Operations at the Country Club for 10 years, and was a pioneer in the Los Cabos golfing community, and was selected as the premier golf professional of the year for Mexico for two consecutive years. 

Dodson was responsible for bringing the Los Cabos International PGA golf tournaments to the region; attracting golfers from all over the world, and putting Los Cabos Golf on the map. 

Cabo San Lucas born and raised, Alberto Ruiz-Nava is one of the late great legendary coach Steve Dodson's most successful Mexican golf protege's. Nava credits Dodson for making him the successful golfer he is today. Nava finished in the top 10 of a 2012 Mexican national golf tournament and continued playing golf at a high level while competing and representing the University of Central Oklahoma; where he won his first-ever college title at the 2016 Missouri Southern Invitational with a sizzling seven-under 209 after rounds of 71-69-69.

“He helped me in so many ways," Nava said, "In my golf game and in my life and with my family. He basically made me the golf player that I am today. I considered him my grandpa,” Nava said.

Nava had a close relationship with Dodson for a great majority of his young life. When Dodson moved to Los Cabos, the golf pro didn’t speak any Spanish, and it was Nava’s mother, Lilia, who helped Dodson and his wife adjust to their new community of Southern Baja California, Mexico. The humble, articulate and successful golf club swinging Nava said he appreciates the wisdom that was passed on to him about golf by the late Mr. Dodson. 

“I learned many exercises and techniques, and most important of all to have fun when you are playing, keep your head up, enjoy the beautiful day that God gave you, and every minute of it.” Nava also mentioned he credits Steve for making his dream of being a PGA star more and more possible with every passing day of more and more practice. Nava decided to attend the University of Central Oklahoma because of its distinguished PGA Golf Management degree program.

“Steve Dodson was a golf professional. He was, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many others, one of the best golf coaches in Mexico, and a lot of people that knew him respected him because of the great person he was,” said Nava. 

And therefore, because of his Christian beliefs, loving and giving nature, proceeds from the Steve Dodson Golf Tournament will benefit the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation, which was created and founded in 2002 by Tom Walsh’s dream and genuine desire to help children with cancer who lived in Los Cabos that had no viable life-saving, cancer-curing options in the state of Baja California Sur; where they could receive treatment. 

Since 2002, Tom Walsh's initiative, generosity, and commitment to help these children have helped thousands of cancer-stricken children during the 15 years of the LG Children's Foundation existence. In 2012, the foundation was finally able to give the children from Los Cabos and all of Baja California Sur the opportunity to receive treatment locally. Currently gaining support in the pediatric oncology, cardiology and intensive care programs at Salvatierra General Hospital in La Paz.

"The Los Cabos Children’s Foundation has made such a difference in the lives of the children of Baja Sur. Without their help, many children would not have survived the devastation of cancer and heart disease. I am so grateful to have been a part of this organization from the beginning. I applaud what they have accomplished over these few years, and am in awe of the work that they do for these special children," said LCCF donor, Gail Freels.  

After its first year, the first cancer patient was treated at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, during 2003. A year later, the foundation also celebrated its first contact with Omaha Children’s Hospital & Medical Center for treating children with congenital heart defects. In 2005, LCCF was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the U.S. and obtained its tax-exempt status under chapter 501(c)3 of the IRS. In 2006, LCCF was recognized and constituted as a community association in Mexico, and began receiving financial government support, which led to the creation of a Los Cabos blood bank.

By 2007, cancer patients began traveling to the Pediatric Hospital in Sinaloa, Mexico. Casa Valentina Culiacan was also founded that year, which gave a home to the BCS children in Sinaloa. In 2008, LCCF obtained tax-exempt status as a "donataria" in Mexico. The following year, the training of local doctors commenced and in 2011 the foundation established its partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where they have studied the possibility of opening a pediatric cancer unit in BCS. The State government has since joined this particular effort.

In 2012, Pediatric oncologists began treating children in the BCS state capital of La Paz. The next year, a Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Unit opened its doors in Salvatierra General Hospital in La Paz; where the first cardiac open heart surgery was performed on a BCS child in La Paz by Dr. James Hammel from Omaha, Nebraska, and his team, during this first surgical mission. A second surgical mission later that year totaled 21 local children who were saved. 

By 2014, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit was created in Salvatierra Hospital. Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Unit, which was accredited by the Mexican federal government in order to receive funds from Seguro Popular. By June 2017, the program performed 114 cardiac surgeries, 100 catheterisms and more than 1,000 evaluations were processed. The support of the Children's Foundation Programs has increased by 44 percent and the estimated beneficiaries percentage also rose another 67 percent. 

Their Partner Program, responsible for treating children with cancer at Salvatierra Hospital, ranks as high as third place nationwide with the highest survival percentage rate to 5 years at 71 percent. The national average for survival is 57 percent. From 2015 to 2018, The Los Cabos Children’s Foundation has tripled the number of programs that have benefited four times as many children.

The First Annual Steve Dodson Memorial Charity Golf Tournament is a tremendous inaugural event that helps with such a vital and necessary need as helping young local children survive Cancer and cardiac issues, which honors a legendary noble man, considered one of the greatest in Mexican golf coaching history. For more information please call (624) 143-4653 or email info@cslcountryclub.com.