LPGA's Stacy Lewis returns to Seaview as champion, neighbor
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Stacy Lewis feels at home in Atlantic County, so when she saw the devastation Hurricane Sandy caused she felt she had to do something.
Lewis won the 2012 ShopRite LPGA Classic at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. After Sandy struck in October, she donated $20,000 to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey's Southern Branch in Egg Harbor Township.
"These communities (where tournaments are held) are our home," Lewis said. "They may only be our home for a week, but they really are our home, and I just wanted to say, 'Thank you for supporting our tour.' I just wanted to help them get back on their feet."
Lewis' donation was revealed Monday as she returned to Seaview for a media day to promote this year's Classic, which will be held May 31-June 2 on the Bay Course at Seaview.
Atlantic County officials honored Lewis for her donation. Galloway Township declared it "Stacy Lewis Day," while the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce presented her with a Community Hero award.
Lewis was in Japan for an LPGA tournament when Sandy came ashore. She watched the coverage on CNN, the only English-language channel in her hotel room. She saw reporters covering the storm from Atlantic City.
"I was just watching on TV and thinking, 'Gosh, I remember walking on the (Atlantic City) Boardwalk,' " she said. "Just seeing the pictures, I couldn't imagine being in that situation. The volunteer in me wanted to come and see what I could do, but obviously I couldn't do that being across the world."
Lewis talked about the storm with her parents and agents.
"I said, 'Start brainstorming,' " she said. "I wanted to do something."
Lewis' representatives contacted ShopRite Classic officials and together they came up with the idea of donating money to the FoodBank.
Lewis' donation helped the FoodBank get food and relief to storm victims.
"That was such overwhelming generosity that (Lewis) gave to us and people in need," FoodBank executive director Margie Barham said. "Contributions are what the FoodBank survives on. Her contribution went a long way toward helping provide food for families that lost everything."
Lewis, who grew up in Texas and now lives in Florida, has emerged as one of the top stories in golf the past year.
Her victory at ShopRite - one of four tournaments she won last year - helped propel her to the LPGA's Rolex Player of the Year award. Lewis was the first American to win it since Beth Daniel in 1994.
"This (the Classic) is one of those tournaments I'm never going to forget," Lewis said. "It really kick-started all the momentum I gained last year and even starting this year."
Lewis, 28, already was won twice this year and was ranked No. 1 in the world for part of this season. She is currently ranked No. 2 behind Inbee Park of South Korea.
Lewis leads this year's Classic field, which will feature 97 of the top 100 players in the world, including past champions Cristie Kerr (2004), Angela Stanford (2003) and Juli Inkster (1986 and 1988).
The field also will feature popular LPGA players Park, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson.
Lewis seemed somewhat embarrassed by the attention her donation received Monday. ShopRite LPGA Classic executive director Tim Erensen said she had to be convinced to make the news of her donation public.
"I didn't do what I did for awards," she said. "It's just part of me. I didn't need the fanfare for it. I just wanted to help people."
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