Rising from the wasteland Needtobreathe golf tourney to raise money for medical care overseas

Needtobreathe band members and Charleston residents include (from left) brothers Bo and Bear Rinehart and Seth Bolt.

Members of Needtobreathe will hit the golf course and perform live Tuesday at their namesake golf classic to raise money for the nonprofit Palmetto Medical Initiative.

Charleston-based PMI builds sustainable medical clinics around the world, including Uganda and Nicaragua. This year's tournament proceeds will help the nonprofit build a new medical clinic in Uganda starting in January.

The tournament offers a chance for golf enthusiasts to tee off with popular musicians, actors, professional athletes and others while also raising money for a charitable cause.

The Needtobreathe Classic Golf Tournament begins at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Ralston Creek and Beresford Creek courses on Daniel Island. Needtobreathe and other musicians will perform later at an after-party concert and auction for sponsors and players.

When band members Bear and Bo Rinehart moved to the Charleston area five years ago, they met PMI cofounders Matthew Alexander and Ed O'Bryan, an emergency room physician who recognized Bear Rinehart's wife, Mary Reames, a nurse practitioner. They met at church, and the group of young thirtysomethings clicked.

"They spend so much time on the road that they were looking for a community of friends at home," recalls Alexander, PMI's executive director.

Bear Rinehart also was looking for a way to give back. He had friends who did international mission work. But he felt conflicted. Did that work make lasting change in people's lives?

"You go over there for a period of time and then leave them with their problems," Rinehart says. He wanted to do work that made a long-term difference.

So, he and his wife went with PMI to Uganda where Americans and Ugandans were working together to build the nonprofit's first hospital. It has since opened and become self-sustaining, staffed by Ugandan medical workers and affordable to local residents.

"I was blown away," Rinehart says. "It's a really well-thought out mission."

Since then, Alexander says, the Needtobreathe members have become huge supporters as well as friends. Multiple members of the band members' families have traveled with PMI and helped to build clinics and provided medical care.

"They are not just giving their finances," Alexander says of the band. "They're giving their time, their talents, their networks, in every way."

At the classic, golfers will have a chance to pair with celebrity guests from the professional sports world and the music industry.

Along with Needtobreathe, golfers will include musicians Drew and Ellie Holcomb, Steven Curtis Chapman, Ben Rector, John Mark McMillan, Mark Bryan of Hootie & the Blowfish, and Ed Roland of Collective Soul. All musical guests will perform at a private concert after the tournament for sponsors and participants.

Other special guests include PGA Tour winners Kevin Streelman and hometown golfer Russell Henley. Former USC quarterback and current Voice of the Gamecocks announcer Todd Ellis, actor Justin Wheelon, and Matt Diaz of the Miami Marlins join other celebrity guests.

Last year's golf tournament raised more than $80,000 for PMI. Those proceeds helped to construct a medical clinic in Nicaragua that was dedicated in January.

This year, Rinehart hopes the golf classic will double the amount raised.

"It's a really good time and a really great cause," Rinehart says.

The tournament is presented by Commonwealth Cares Foundation, the charitable arm of Commonwealth Financial Group, a Daniel Island-based financial services firm. Founder Britt Gilbert has gone on medical mission trips to Uganda and Nicaragua with PMI.

"What continues to draw me closer to PMI is the sustainability model," Gilbert says. "For anybody who wants to make an investment, they want to see that the other person has taken ownership of it, and I think PMI has done a really good job of that."

Tickets are $300 for an individual player and $1,200 for a team of four. Separate VIP tickets to the private concert are available with golf registration.

Register at www.commonwealthcares.org.

Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563 or follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes.