MELROSE — Saugus native Jim Leger and his family have found a positive way of responding to one of the great tragedies of their lives.
Leger, a former hockey player both at Saugus High and Phillips Academy, and then for the University of Maine, saw his father, also named Jim, die in 2014 after having a bad reaction to some cancer medication. Now, the family, which also includes his wife, Monica; his mother, Charlotte; and sister and brother-in-law Michelle and Greg Tautkus, have responded by establishing the annual Jim Leger Memorial Golf Tournament, now in its fifth year.
The tournament and dinner will be held next month in his father’s memory.
Thus far, the Legers have raised more than $40,000, and all of which will be donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“Our father was a GE worker for over 40 years,” Leger said. “He was a local Elks member for over 25 years, a local sports coach for hockey, baseball, girls basketball and girls softball. He was your fisherman, your golf league partner, Jim Leger was known in the community.
“The money going back, it’s going to help someone else and it’s going to help find a cure,” Leger said. “A lot of people can benefit and hopefully not deal with what we went through with the unknown.”
The elder Leger was originally diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in September 2013. He went into a coma after receiving a dose of methotrexate, and died on March 31, 2014.
Methotrexate is a drug used alone or together with other medicines to treat several types of cancer.
“Unfortunately the doctors had never seen a case like this before,” Leger said.
The first fundraiser was Oct. 10, 2014, which was his birthday, just a few months after his death. The fundraiser has been held in May since 2016, and all of the information about the tournament has been spread through word of mouth, email, phone and text.
“He always golfed, and that was something we could do as a father and son together. He would golf in a couple golf leagues through GE,” he said.
The fundraiser has held the golf tournament and dinner since its first year. The dinner has been catered by Petrone’s Pizza in Melrose since the beginning.
“I like to use local companies the best I can, he’s been doing it every year and the response from everyone is fantastic,” Leger said.
With the increase of attendees, Leger decided to add comedians as part of the event.
“We try to encompass the people that can golf and the people that don’t want to golf, and we make it convenient over one night,” he said.
This year, the tournament will be held at Mt. Hood Golf Course in Melrose,, teeing off at 3 p.m., with the dinner to follow at the Holiday Inn, 1 Newbury St., Peabody, from 6 to 11. There will be a comedy show featuring comedian Don Zollo and a guest comedian. The deadline to register is April 30. Sponsors for the event include Buffalo Wild Wings, Samuel Adams, R and A Industries, and Whitney Construction.
“R and A Industries and Whitney Construction are family owned businesses that have really stepped up to help support that cause.” Leger said. “Without their support, little details couldn’t have been accessible.”
Leger was on the 1999 national championship Maine hockey team. He also won college hockey’s Humanitarian Award that season.
The entire Leger family has made the tournament a success, Leger said. That includes Hayden Leger and Keira DeVenene (Monica Leger’s daughter); and Logan and Lainey Tautkus.
To donate, or for more information about The Fifth Annual Jim Leger Memorial Golf Tournament visit https://www.legergolfmemorial.com/.