By Brenda L. Holmes
The PGA and USGA presented scholarships to Avon High School students Whitney and Ricky Blakely in honor of their father, Staff. Sgt. Richard Blakely, who died serving his country in 2006.
The Legends Golf Club and its members helped to raise the funds and presented the scholarships through the Folds of Honor Foundation. The foundation is a non-profit organization that provides educational scholarships to the families of service men and women who are disabled or killed while serving their country.
Blakely was a 1990 graduate of Avon High School. He was an iron worker and served as a medic. He was a member of the Indiana National Guard’s Company E 38th Main Support Battalion in Indianapolis.
Ted Bishop, vice president of the PGA and general manager of the Legends Golf Club, welcomed everyone to the Military Appreciation Day activities there. He gave a special thank you to several attendees who are currently serving in the military.
“I sit on the National Folds of Honor board and we hear so many emotional stories,” Bishop said. “You always think it will get easier to hear, but it never does.”
Indiana National Guard Major Gen. R. Martin Umberger served as the keynote speaker.
“I know this family well,” he said. “He (Blakely) was a son, a husband, a father, and a great American patriot.”
Umberger told of Blakely’s service as he worked as a medic in Iraq.
“They didn’t have medics in the neighborhoods and Richard said, ‘I’ll do that,’” he said. “They called him Doc Blakely and in early 2006 he was shot by a sniper. He survived that and found out they still needed help, so he said, ‘Put me back in.’ I told him he didn’t have to do this, but he demanded to go. He said ‘what are the chances I would be hit again?’”
But on June 6, 2006, he was killed as a result of small arms fire while on dismounted patrol near Al Khalidiyah, Iraq.
Patricia Blakely, widow of the staff sergeant and mother of Whitney and Ricky, thanked members of the club and the PGA for the generous gift.
“I cannot explain to you just how wonderful this program is,” Blakely said. “They’ve been in touch with me since 2007. I can’t tell you enough how much this is appreciated.”
She said Marsha Maxwell, a staff member at Folds of Honor, has become a very good friend.
“She’s almost been like a counselor to me,” she said. “She’s become a friend.”
Blakely thanked all the members of the club, the PGA, and everyone affiliated with the program.
Whitney Blakely, 17, is a senior at Avon High School who is planning to attend IUPUI to study something in the medical field. Her brother, Ricky, 15, is a sophomore at AHS. He’s planning to study law, but is undecided on a school.