By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Held at Paint Creek Country Club over May 22 and 23, the Lauren Yankee Memorial Golf Outing was an experience everyone in attendance will remember, raising nearly $20,000.
Yankee, a 2018 Oxford High School graduate, passed unexpectedly on December 29 from sudden heart arrhythmia in Valdosta, Georgia while traveling to visit her grandparents in Florida with her longtime boyfriend and Wildcat classmate, Travis Durant.
A four-year member of Gretchen Gabler’s golf program and All-Oakland Activities Association (OAA) selection as a senior, Yankee inherited her love of the game from her father, Eric, and was continuing her student-athlete career at the collegiate level for Ryan Williams’ Adrian Bulldogs in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA).
Kraig and Jeanne Draggoo, close friends of the Yankee family, were the driving forces behind the creation of this outing. The family had met the Draggoos when they became members of Paint Creek Country Club over seven years ago.
“Shortly after this happened (Lauren’s passing), we had mentioned that we would like to look into doing something like this,” Yankee’s mother, Cari, shared.
“Within 48 hours of us saying that, we had a date. How they (the Draggoos) took that one little comment and ran with it, is incredible.”
Cari and Eric used the funds generated by this outing to give back to Oxford High School girls’ golf, awarding the program’s six members of the Class of 2021 with a Lauren Yankee Memorial Scholarship during the school’s Scholarship Day on May 17.
Kayla Acton, Avery Carty, Kate Dietiker, Stephanie Gilling, Janelle Grech, and Eryn Petriko were the recipients of the first-year memorial scholarships.
Nearly 300 golfers participated in the outing over the two days, including Lauren’s high school and collegiate coaches, Gabler and Williams, and several of her Bulldog teammates.
“I can’t say anything more positive about Adrian,” Cari told this journalist during our June 4 meeting. “They have been such amazing supporters of our family.”
Lauren began her studies at Adrian as a Biology major, before switching to Art, with a focus on graphic design. Shortly before her passing, her roommates had asked her to create a butterfly design for a tattoo the roommates were interested in. Sweatshirts and t-shirts with this butterfly design were sold at the golf outing and raised an additional $1,500 for the Wildcat girls’ golf program.
Ideally, this outing will be held annually, and Cari shared the family plans on conducting it again in 2022. Given Oxford’s tremendous generosity and close-knit nature, this journalist could certainly see the outing becoming a yearly event.
“We really wanted to pay homage to the amount of love we’ve received,” Cari said. “Lauren’s legacy will carry on, and I know she was out there with us that day.”
Lauren is the eldest of the Yankees’ five daughters. The family has two currently enrolled at Oxford High School, Lilly, Class of 2022, and Lexy, Class of 2024. The youngest two, who are twins, are wrapping up fifth grade at Clear Lake Elementary.
Lilly and Lexy both play golf and lacrosse, and the latter also plays basketball, making Rachel Bryer’s varsity team as a freshman in 2020-21.