The James Hosner Memorial Golf Tournament will close with the celebration of its 10th anniversary Saturday, August 24 at Tillsonview Fairways.
Inspired by the tragic death of its namesake via drug overdose on the eve of entering rehabilitation, its decade-long history has been committed to raising funds in support of Teen Challenge, the facility Hosner was about to be admitted to.
James was an avid golfer and his friends initiated a fund-raising tournament which has continued with the support of parents Barry and Cheryl, who have turned personal tragedy into positive effort.
“We just couldn’t leave it that way,” said James’ father Barry during a recent promotional meeting, featuring three participants, each with a poignant anniversary date of their own.
December 4, 2012 will be forever circled on John ‘P’s mental calendar. Living in an alcoholic haze caused by between 40 and 50 drinks of vodka “every single day,” John agreed to enter Teen Challenge ranch following a tour with his 22-year-old son “which I don’t even remember.”
John was one of the sickest human beings to enter the Teen Challenge program, suffering from muscular atrophy, his 22-year marriage destroyed by severe alcoholism, a month he estimates now, away from death.
“It sucked the life out of me,” he says quietly.
“Fragile,” recalls Mark Thomas, TC graduate and intern.
“Very despondent,” added Barry Hosner. “You could see the agony in his eyes.”
Six months into his year-long program, refusing medication of any kind including that prescribed by medical staff, John has gained 50 pounds – and more importantly, regained hope for a future.
“And he smiles,” said Barry Hosner.
“And talks,” added Cheryl Hosner.
“It really has been a miraculous transition,” said TC Intern Coordinator Chuck McDougall.
Proponents of the program tout its Christian-based approach, what Barry Hosner refers to as ‘the Jesus factor,’ for comparatively remarkable rehabilitation success rates. John alludes to that, along with the ongoing love and support of his son and daughter, “My two biggest supporters, besides Jesus.
“My kids always love me, but now they love me and are so, so proud of me.”
Thomas has also reconnected with his family since entering the program November 22, 2011 addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine. He had been through ‘four or five,’ rehab programs to go along with 10 or 15 ‘detox’ efforts, but Teen Challenge would finally ‘get it right,’ through Jesus Christ, believes Thomas.
“Putting my faith in Him and His ability to change me, that’s the golden ticket right there.”
Since entering, he has been clean and sober, lost 100 pounds, ran a half-marathon (planning to go the full distance next year in Toronto) and is currently acting as an intern, supporting other students in their quest for sobriety.
“It’s an amazing blessing to serve in that way.”
Reconnecting with his mother, Thomas has also been thrilled to bond with his brother and his family. A police officer who went so far as to write a seven-page letter detailing why his addicted brother could not be in his or his family’s life, Thomas figured he would be the hardest nut to crack.
“It turns out he is my biggest fan. Teen Challenge has just made me apples and oranges.”
Will Marsh is a former drug dealer whose clientele included James Hosner, despite which, he has been welcomed into the broader Teen Challenge ‘family’ by ‘Ma’ and ‘Pa’ Hosner.
“Barry and Cheryl have wrapped their arms around me like a son with no condemnation, just love.”
Marsh exited his first TC program nine months in, hitting true rock bottom six months after that.
“Cold, empty, about ready to rob and shoot somebody.”
His rescue came from a crack house visited by two TC volunteers, who prayed over him during his height of despair.
“It all happened at that precipice where life and death can happen. I was convinced God was real, He was in my heart and I needed Him for transformation and true change of character.”
Marsh reentered Teen Challenge January 25, 2011, has successfully completed the 12-month program and has a six-month stint as an intern under his belt.
“It was life or death.”
The 10-year anniversary of the James Hosner Memorial Golf Tournament encompasses some 250 or so start or anniversary dates of Teen Challenge graduate students. Funds raised by the tournament, as well as personal commitment and contribution in support of individuals with compelling success stories such as the three shared here, is part of what has sustained Barry and Cheryl Hosner through personal tragedy.
“We lost James, but we have gained so many sons and daughters over the years – his legacy continues on,” said Barry.
As does the need.
“There are still guys on the waiting list, the need is always there, it will never be over,” said Cheryl.
The 10th – and final – James Hosner Memorial will tee off (shotgun start) at 2 p.m. at Tillsonview Fairways, with supper (featuring special guests including TC Ambassadors Dr. Ray and Lynn Elder) scheduled for 5 p.m. Cost for a round of golf and dinner is $60, $20 for dinner only. Those seeking to sign up or donate to the effort are invited to call 519-688-9313. Those interested in more information on Teen Challenge can visit the website www.tclondon.ca or phone 519-652-0777.
Although wrapping up a successful 10-year golf tournament run, the Hosners are not folding up their collective tent. ‘Revamping and restructuring,’ they will continue to be deeply involved with an effort that has become central to their lives.
“We are not in the corner,” Barry concluded. “We’re still in the fight.”
Which says Thomas, is great news, due to the love and respect their efforts have generated among students and staff alike.
“We are very blessed to have them as part of the Teen Challenge family for sure – irreplaceable.”