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Giving through golf

People

CHARITY AUCTION RAISES $100,000 FOR PANDEMIC WORKERS

When Eric Sedransk retreated to Hilton Head Island in mid-March, it was a two-pronged move. He thought it wise to escape New York City, where the COVID-19 pandemic was raging, and he wanted to be here to assist his newly widowed mother.  

He could run errands, help around the house, and provide emotional support for a grieving mother suddenly faced with the additional stress of navigating a pandemic. 

What he didn’t expect was the epiphany that came during a casual bike ride around the island, after which he returned home and told his mom and a friend who was visiting that he was ready to completely change his outlook on life. 

“They just looked at me at me in bewilderment,” Sedransk recalls with a laugh. “They were like, ‘OK, so you’re just going to do stuff for fun? How will you pay your bills?’ ”  

Sedransk’s vision was a little more complex than that, but he felt as if he was at a dead end in his career after being laid off just before the pandemic and watching companies he had interviewed with push the pause button on the hiring process. Given the tumultuous time, a change of tack was warranted. 

“Instead of thinking, ‘How can I get a job to make money?’ my mindset changed to, ‘How can I be productive, be creative, and also give back?’ ” Sedransk says. “It’s weird because I’m a capitalist, I have an MBA. I do a lot of charity work, but that’s a completely different mindset.” 

After finding himself unemployed and living in the golf paradise of Hilton Head Island, Sedransk spent more time engaging with a robust audience of about 2,500 followers for his @Member4ADay account on Instagram, where he documents his rounds of golf at well-regarded courses and allows followers to get a glimpse of what it’s like to spend a day on some of the nation’s finest tracks. 

With his newfound mindset, the golf-crazed Instagram following seemed like his best asset, so he came up with the idea to solicit rounds of golf from some of the exclusive clubs where he has contacts and auction them off for Project Frontline, a charity aimed at purchasing meals from local restaurants in New York City and delivering them to frontline healthcare workers.  

His first call bore fruit, resulting in a foursome at a prestigious club in the Philadelphia area. 

“I’d like to think if he said no that I’d have kept going,” Sedransk says, “but getting that first ‘yes’ was big.” 

He rounded up about 20 rounds of golf and let the bidding begin. 

The initiative quickly went viral, and his audience and donations shot through the roof, along with the amount of money raised. When all was said and done, a last-minute flurry of bids pushed the total raised to six figures, barely clearing the $100,000 mark.  

Golf courses that participated included Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York and Pete Dye Golf Club in West Virginia. 

“At least I knew I had 2,500 people who are obsessed with golf, so that’s a good start,” Sedransk says. “If you think about it, unbeknownst, I had been teasing my audience for three years of playing these great courses. Now you can play these great courses and support charity.”  

Sedransk was floored, but he was also inspired, and he wasn’t alone. 

Publications including the New York Post and Golf Magazine wrote about the endeavor and charities began approaching Sedransk about doing the same for their causes. 

Now, Member for a Day has become a full-time charitable endeavor — a turnkey fundraising platform for non-profit organizations through golf.  

Sedransk has used his network to find a group of trusted board advisors and brought on a friend with advanced tech knowledge, as well as a handful of college interns. He is working with numerous groups to plan fundraising auctions, including one aimed at funding the relaunch of the The First Tee Savannah chapter — an auction that already includes bucket-list items like a stay-and-play at Merion Golf Club and Ohoopee Match Club in Georgia. The goal for that auction, set for the first week in December, is $100,000, but Sedransk hopes to far exceed his target. 

Sedransk’s background running business development for tech companies helped him avoid some of the pitfalls that otherwise might have awaited him, and he’s thankful for that experience helping lead him to his dream job. 

“We all take roundabout journeys to get where we need to be in life, but it’s been super exciting because it’s been so clear to me that this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” Sedransk says. “It combines my tech experience with the game of golf and giving back to charity, which are pretty much my three favorite things. I honestly can say that I’m living my dream.”