For Tom Bohen, who grew up in Bridgewater and now lives in Branchburg, he watched his nephew, Joey, grow up under the tutelage of the Eden Autism Institute, which works with students with autism.
And as Joey is now 21 and about to leave the institute, Bohen is continuing to give back to the school that he said turned his nephew “into the citizen he is.”
“He started going to Eden because he is autistic, and [my sister’s] life was turned upside down,” he said. “To have a child with autism, to raise him, it takes a lot of sacrifice and she does a great job.”
“And I thought what can I do to help out, show my appreciation for the sacrifices the teachers at Eden do day in and day out to make sure Joey can live a normal life,” he added.
The Just for Joey golf fundraiser will be held at the Heron Glen Golf Course in Ringoes June 22, with registration beginning at 8 a.m.
“We have had it the past six years,” Bohen said. “We are sold out this year, and have 144 golfers.”
This event could be like a Bridgewater reunion for Bohen.
“I grew up in Bridgewater, and have friends in the area and we have remained friends through grade school and high school,” he added. “We have still been in touch.”
“I started the event with them, friends and family, and it’s gotten a life of its own,” he added.
All of the proceeds from the program go to the Eden Institute.
“The school has done a great job developing these children with the abilities they have,” Bohen said.
The event, Bohen said, will include raffles for prizes from local businesses, and it costs $100 to get a sign on the course as a business.
“We’re always looking for donations in terms of anything we can raffle off to participants,” he said, “anything the local businesses could do to get restaurants involved for gift cards.”
In addition, Bohen said, this event will be a tournament, with the lowest scoring team receiving prizes, as well as awards being given for the longest drive and more.
“We will have a 50/50, and all sorts of other programs going on throughout the day,” he said.
Bohen said the charity raises about $14,000 a year, which is a huge help to the school that survives on donations.
“They need donations to keep the school going,” he said. “The proceeds go to them to do events and just be able to run the school. They count on it now.”
But overall, Bohen said, everything he is doing with this charity is for Joey, and his sister, Tish. His nephew, Bohen said, will start in Eden adult care now that he is 21 years old.
“But this is really for my sister, to show that I see what’s going on, and I respect what she does day in and day out for Joey,” he said. “If I can do just one thing to put a smile on her face, and get family and friends together, it’s the least I can do for her because of what she does.”
“And Joey lives as normal a life as possible thanks to the school he’s attending and the great family he has,” he added.
For more information, visit justforjoey.org.