Jean & Joan Golf Tournament marks 20 years

Event supports Tunnell Cancer Center, survivorship and benevolence
August 27, 2019

When Joan Martin died of cancer in October 1998, her husband Jim rebuffed the idea of starting a golf tournament in her name.

However, with encouragement and help from his Kings Creek neighbors Jeanne Andrews, Mardee Corbett, and Tillie McHugh, Jim changed his mind. Then, in summer 1999, their friend and neighbor Jean James also passed away, so her daughter Donna Brockstedt and friend Beth Mangus joined the group.

Shortly after, the Jean & Joan Cancer Fund was born, with Beebe’s Tunnell Cancer Center as the beneficiary.

The Jean & Joan Golf Tournament is now one of Sussex County’s longest-running charity golf tournaments, celebrating its 20th anniversary this September.

This is one more benchmark for the founders and countless volunteers who have helped the Jean & Joan Cancer Fund Golf Tournament grow. The event has raised more than $550,000 for Beebe Healthcare's Robert & Eolyne Tunnell Cancer Center since 2000.

“A lot of the local community supported us from the very start,” said Jim Martin, who helped found the tournament in memory of his wife Joan. “Our first tournament in 2000, we had 124 golfers and were able to contribute $21,000.”

This year’s tournament will be held Monday, Sept. 23, again at Kings Creek Country Club. To register, visit This year’s tournament will offer a pickleball session for those who want to participate, but golf isn’t quite their sport of choice.

The fund has been able to provide support for mobile workstations for nurses, infusion chairs, the beauty shop, and the meditation garden. The committee has also purchased two buses, a car, and two SUVs to make transportation part of the center’s focus.

The tournament has evolved over the years, but its mission has not.

“We’re not going to cure cancer. That’s for people of a different pay grade, but we are able to affect individual lives and keep every dollar of donations in Sussex County,” said Vicki Tull, committee chair for the last six years. The 2020 event will be her last as committee chair.

“What I’ve always loved about the facility is that it’s all self-contained,” said Tull. “You don’t have to go off the campus to pathology or for a prescription fill or to get a wig. They try and make it so that when you come in the doors, they take you in – that’s really compelling.”

Tull said new ideas will keep coming when Cherrie Rich takes over as committee chair next year. She is the former executive director of the Tunnell Cancer Center.

“There’s been a legacy established,” Rich said. “The community wants to support this tournament. They want to support the cancer center.”

One hardship that Cherrie, Vicki, and Jim all recall is the first rainout in event history, in 2018. Since the tournament was canceled, only the dinner was held for sponsors and guests. More than 120 people still came out to support the Jean & Joan Fund, a testament to the efforts put forth by the committee and the giving community.

Those kinds of impactful moments are the ones Tull will remember from her time as committee chair.

“At every event after dinner, we have a moment of silence to remember our loved ones and family and friends we’ve lost,” Tull said. “But one year, we introduced the ringing of the bell concept. It means you’ve made it through your cancer treatment. It’s obviously a very joyous time. So we said let’s celebrate life, asking everyone to stand who has been diagnosed with cancer. The people that stood up, some of them I didn’t even know had gone through the fight. That to me was an emotional moment, to see that there is an impact in all the work we do.”

Beebe Healthcare is a not-for-profit community healthcare system with a charitable mission to encourage healthy living, prevent illness, and restore optimal health for the people who live, work, and visit in the communities it serves. Beebe Healthcare includes the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus, which houses the medical center; the Rehoboth Beach Health Campus; and coming in 2020, the South Coastal Health Campus. Beebe Healthcare offers primary care as well as specialized services in the areas of cardiac and vascular, general surgery, robotic surgery, cancer treatment, women's health, and orthopaedics. Beebe also offers walk-in care, lab, imaging and physical rehabilitation services at several locations throughout Sussex County, in addition to a home care program and an adult activities center.

For more information about Beebe Healthcare, go to To find out how Beebe Healthcare is creating the Next Generation of Care for the community, go to


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