Many are familiar with the legacy of Gene Upshaw from the decades of leadership on the field as an Oakland Raider. Fewer are familiar with the newer, more advantageous legacy that Gene’s family has introduced into the community of Truckee since his sudden death in 2008 from pancreatic cancer. The 6th annual Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic took place earlier this week and, like Gene’s football career, it was extraordinary. The final numbers are still being tallied but the Tahoe Forest Health Systems reports they will see new records in participation and funds raised.
The Tournament is held at The Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing and benefits the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center and the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research. Since the inaugural tournament in 2009, the event has raised nearly $700,000 for pancreatic cancer research, quality medical treatment and care for cancer patients and their families, sustainability and advancement of medical technology, and funding for research in areas such as traumatic brain injury. This years fundraising efforts will raise that total to over $900,000!
Paired with one celebrity athlete, teams of five compete in a shamble format golf tournament to generate funds for the foundation. The benefit attracts many well know athletes from many different sports. Retired NFL stars like Marcus Allen and Herm Edwards team up with local athletes like Daron Rahlves and Jeremy Jones to create this remarkable fundraiser. A VIP pairings party is held at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe including a Bay Area infused sports memorabilia auction to accompany the golf in raising proceeds.
Although a fierce competitor on the field, Gene Upshaw was a humble and generous man in the clubhouse and on the golf links. As a member of the Gray’s Crossing Golf Club, Gene loved the Tahoe area and spent most of his down time here in the mountains. It was hard to believe that a man this peaceful held the controversial title of Executive Director of the National Football League’s Player Union for over 20 years.
Survived by his Wife, (Terri) and Son’s (Justin and Daniel), the Upshaw’s have undoubtedly created a legacy within the Tahoe area. After winning 2 Super Bowls and becoming the only in NFL player in history to make the Super Bowl in three different decades with the same team, Gene Upshaw was a remarkable man. Within the Truckee/Tahoe area the name Gene Upshaw will live forever, but for something far more important than football, cancer treatment.
By Jason Waters