Bye, Grand Haven’s former athletic director, died in April from cancer, while Hewitt, the school’s varsity boys basketball coach, collapsed on Tuesday while jogging.
“It’s a very important fundraiser,” said organizer and former athletic director Jack Provencal. “It’s the only athletic fundraiser they have. …. Everyone is keenly aware and very sensitive to Robin. He was a teacher for 30-some years at Grand Haven. He had an impact on people for many years.”
Provencal said the community was “devastated” after hearing the news about Hewitt earlier this week.
“He was just a remarkable human being,” Provencal said. “He was a very good coach and an outstanding guidance counselor. He was passionate about people. It’s just really sad.”
Grand Haven High School Principal Tracy Wilson is expected to speak about the two late figures in an opening ceremony for the athletic fundraiser, which takes place at the Grand Haven Golf Club.
Provencal said that he thought Bye’s death has helped raise sponsorships. The open is up nearly $5,000 from last year.
“We’re just very grateful that people stepped up,” Provencal said. “I think it would have been successful either way, but particularly because of how people were impacted. … He had a wonderful attitude. Even in his illness, his attitude was incredible.”
Provencal said the event has helped raise over $60,000 the last seven years. The money goes toward costs outside, or partially funded by, the school’s athletic budget such as coaching clinics, player camps, jerseys and equipment.
“If you need 10 basketballs and you can only afford eight, with this account fund you could pick up a few more,” Provencal said. “It doesn’t go to anyone’s salary at all, it goes to supplies and teams as needed.”
Thirty-four foursomes are currently signed up for the noon shotgun start, and there are still spots available. The cost is $100 per person, with registration taking place Friday at 10:30 a.m.
Despite the reverent mood due to the recent losses to the Grand Haven athletic family, Provencal said he expected the event to be a good time — just like the other years.
“That’s all very sad, but also in a way this is a celebration,” Provencal said. “Not just for Robin (Bye) and Steve Hewitt, but others who dedicated their lives to young people. It’s very sad, but this is in remembrance. People are coming together. It’s a fun event. People have a good time. People come back year after year.”