By Lanier Laney
You might know Ohio native Mike Ingram as a PGA member and the popular director of golf at Brays Island, but you may not know about his 22 year involvement with AMIkids Beaufort (formerly Beaufort Marine Institute) and as the cofounder of “Friends of the Program” at Beaufort High School.
Mike met his beloved wife Kathy of 26 years while both were attending Indiana University. While there, Mike’s golf coach introduced him to a golf pro from Fripp Island who had previously attended Indiana. He was going to build a new golf course on Cat Island (now The Sanctuary) in the near future. Says Mike, “The timing was perfect because I was looking for a place in the South to work on my golf game and he needed some work and he hired me!”
The Ingrams moved to Beaufort and Kathy introduced and implemented dance into the public school system. She has been the dance teacher at Lady’s Island Middle School now for the past 23 years.
While at Cat Island Golf Club, Mike met a gentlemen named Sumner Pingree and gave him a golf lesson. Sumner spoke about a development he was starting called Brays Island. He also mentioned he was looking for a golf pro to help with starting up his new golf course. Says Mike, “Well, let’s just say … 23 years later, I am glad we had that lesson!”
About his experience over the years, Mike has this to say: “I am the luckiest golf professional in the world to have the opportunity to call my place of work Brays Island.” He adds, “Let me say, when it comes to giving back, the owners of Brays Island are truly a great asset and example not only to the local community, but as well as to Beaufort County.”
And about his decision to move to Beaufort 26 years ago, Mike says, “Beaufortonians are what I would call sincere, genuine and real people. You can count on ‘em at anytime and they’ll do anything for you if they can.”
Mike and Kathy raised two wonderful children during those years, son Anthony, 22, who attended Beaufort High and a is recent graduate of SCAD, and daughter Taylor, 17, a senior at Beaufort High.
It was also during that time that Mike got involved in charity. Says Mike, “Sumner Pingree is a great ambassador for the city of Beaufort. My efforts of giving back to the community are a credit and compliment to him and what he has always believed in.”
Mike became involved with AMIkids Beaufort — at that time it was called Beaufort Marine Institute. AMIkids Beaufort is a nonprofit residential program providing South Carolina’s kids with an opportunity to transform their lives. The program, serving boys ages 13-17 from areas throughout the state, is one of more than 50 programs across the country affiliated with nationally-recognized AMIkids, headquartered in Tampa, Florida. While at AMIkids Beaufort, teens focus on education, counseling and behavioral services designed to empower decision-making that will ultimately shape their future. They learn to reestablish core values, life skills and vocational skills — tools to help as they return to the local community and the workforce. The structured, family environment at AMIkids Beaufort has led to a 77% success rate and a 28-year history of giving kids the tools they need to achieve a brighter future. Since 1985, they have helped over 2,500 young men turn into productive citizens. The organization was recently given an award by the governor.
Mike has served in all capacities during his 23-year involvement with the organization, having recently served as chairman of the board and is currently serving as the past chairman. AMIkids’ big annual fundraiser is a croquet event at Brays Island that has raised more than $700,000 since it started 22 years ago.
Mike is also a member of the Big Green Booster Club for Beaufort High School and is cofounder and project manager for the “Friends of the Program” for Eagle Field at Beaufort High.
Says Mike, “The ‘Friends of the Program’ provides an easy way for community and school to reunite as one. It creates pride and a sense of ownership to everyone from parents, volunteers, businesses, faculty and students coming together to make Eagle Field the finest high school athletic facility in South Carolina for generations to come.” He adds, “The program’s goal is a simple one, but one that’s forgotten so many times. These are our kids, our school and our community — If not us, then who?”
Mike can boil his whole approach to charity down to just one sentence: “Simply, just give back to whatever and to whomever you can and by doing so kids, community and Beaufort will be even a better place to call home!”
Beaufort is very lucky that both Mike and Kathy Ingram decided to call it “home” too.
TO GET INVOLVED
• Sponsor or participate in the AMIkids 23rd Annual Croquet Event at Brays Island, May 11, 2013. Contact AMIkids Beaufort at 846-2128, www.AMIkids.org.
• Big Green Booster Club: “Friends of the Program,” call 986-4093 or visit www.beauforteagles.org.
Mike says, “See you at Eagle Field on Friday nights and stop by the Booster Club Tent for additional information.”