BUCKHANNON — This weekend, individuals and businesses across the county will tee off to help turn tragedy into hope for the future.
The fifth annual Team Zach Post “Go Big or Go Home” golf tournament will take place Saturday at Riverbend Golf Course. Beginning with registration at 7:30 a.m. followed by a 9 a.m. shotgun tee-off, much remains the same about the annual event, which is held to honor the memory of Zachary Post, who, at 24, died by suicide on Nov. 14, 2012. The purpose of the fundraiser, however, has changed this year, Post’s mother, Dee Brown said.
While in years past, the tournament has raised money for a nonprofit, in 2017, the event will raise money for a recipient of the Zach Post Memorial Scholarship. The tournament is being organized by Evelyn McCourt and a group of Zach’s friends known as the Gauley River Boys, of which Post was a member.
“Some of them have been together since they were six weeks old, and they would go camp on the Gauley River, so they became known as the Gauley River Boys,” Brown said. “They’re still together at this time in their lives, and there are 20 or more of them. They decided for the fifth annual event they would like to do a scholarship, and they are starting a nonprofit to help and assist in the community.”
So, the Gauley River Boys and McCourt began organizing and have thus far raised close to $5,000, which is more than Brown says has ever been raised at a golf tournament held in Post’s honor. The scholarship is designed for a graduate of Buckhannon-Upshur High School who plans on attending an in-state college or university to major in criminal justice. To earn the scholarship, interested students must write an essay about why they want to major in criminal justice and also demonstrate financial need.
Brown says she’s overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for Post and the scholarship, given the fact that suicide is a controversial topic.
“It’s just been unreal, the number of businesses and individuals that have donated,” Brown said.
But given Post’s popularity and larger-than-life personality, perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise after all.
“Zachary knew a lot of people,” Brown said. “He touched so many people, not only in this town but around the state. He was bigger than life, he was a big man, and his laugh would just light everybody up. He was one of the most caring people that I know. His purpose was to help everybody else — he always put everybody else above himself.”
A fan of the West Virginia University Mountaineers, Post loved to fish, play baseball and spend time with his friends and family. He was such a happy person, Brown said, that no one suspected he was suffering from severe depression until he died in November 2012.
“I know the split second Zachary passed away, he was thinking, ‘This is the worst mistake I’ve ever made in my life,’” Brown said. “I’m not trying to glorify his death — it’s something that can’t be glorified. I’m just trying to bring it in a positive light and let people know that you’re never alone — never. We want to use something that was so tragic and help another individual with it. We are choosing to celebrate how he lived, not how he died.”
Brown said the golf tournament helps ease her grief about the death of her only son every year. Often, people are too timid to talk about Post or the concept of suicide, afraid they will upset Brown and send her into a spiral of sadness. However, talking about her son is exactly what helps Brown cope.
“People sit down in chairs and hear stories of Zach, and we just have a really good time,” Brown said. “For a person who loses someone to suicide, to hear their loved one’s name even mentioned is the best gift. So, when you get in a group like this, we get together and tell stories about him. It is the best, best gift ever given to a survivor of a loved one to suicide.”
The golf tournament has grown so popular that organizers had to cut off the number of teams signed up at 15 this year; however, everyone is welcome to stop by the event and participate in the silent auction, Brown said. Anyone who would like to donate to the Zach Post Scholarship Fund is encouraged to mail funds to Brown at 35 Upper Dr., Buckhannon, WV, 26201.