U.S. Venture Open raises record $5.13 million to fight poverty in the region

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - UPDATE: This year's U.S. Venture Open golf event raised a record $5.13 million Wednesday, against a goal of $4.3 million. U.S. Venture says this makes it the nation's largest one-day charitable event dedicated to ending poverty.

Golfer putts at the US Venture Open (WBAY photo)

That record-breaking total received a huge boost from a $925,000 gift from the David A. Thiede estate, the largest single gift in the U.S. Venture Open's history.

In 34 years, the U.S. Venture Open has raised more than $46,330,848 to help hundreds of local non-profit organizations.

More than 900 golfers are taking to the links to fight poverty in Northeast Wisconsin. The 34th annual U.S. Venture Open has set a $4.3 million fundraising goal.

Every drive, chip, and and putt on six Northeast Wisconsin golf courses is helping the community.

"We have 200 different organizations that we support with that money throughout Green Bay, Oshkosh, and the Fox Cities so there's a lot of opportunity to spend it unfortunately, but it goes to some really great causes," says John Schmidt, President/CEO of U.S. Venture.

Since 1986, when golfers first took to the links in the U.S. Venture Open, $42 million has been raised locally to fight poverty in the region. The goal of the event is no different as the war on poverty continues.

According to Wilson Jones, President/CEO of Oshkosh Corporation, "I was looking at some stats, just the other day, I think it's 46% of the families in this area suffer from basic needs, they don't have enough basic needs."

While grants from the U.S. Venture Open continue to fund those basic needs, more recently, additional dollars have been invested in mental health issues.

"We know that mental health and poverty of inextricably linked," says Greg Vandenberg from U.S. Venture.

And just has the U.S. Venture Open has grown through the years to the outing it is today, so has the understanding of how to fight poverty, an uphill battle, that because of funds raised today, that Northeast Wisconsin is gaining ground.

Vandenberg adds, "It's interesting that ten years ago we weren't even looking at mental health as a real focus, but I think it's because we've tried to stay humble and say we don't have all of the answers and we're going to keep learning as we go on this journey."

The golf outing ended with a big dinner at VanAbel's. Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey and ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt were the special guests.