It might not have been the hardwood or the football field, but Syracuse celebrities and legends came together at the Links of Erie Village for the second annual Willow Street Foundation Legends Golf Tournament on Thursday.
Dozens of golfers were paired with former Syracuse basketball stars like Roosevelt Bouie and Pearl Washington, football stars like former SU running back Robert Drummond, and even an NFL star, as former Buffalo Bill Fred Smerlas also made his way around the Links on a beautiful August afternoon.
"The great thing about it is that nobody gets paid...they do it on their own and they do it simply because it's a good cause," Bob Lyons, the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Willow Street Foundation says.
The Foundation focuses on taking kids with ambition and discipline who have circumstances that might not allow them to realize their hopes and dreams, and trying to help them realize their full potential through education and scholarships. Last year, they raised about $20,000 because of the golf tournament, and hoped to increase that number by 30 to 40 percent this time around.
Lyons says he wants the golf tournament to be the biggest charity event in Central New York, something the stars also want to happen.
"[Having us there] gives them (The Willow Foundation) legitimacy so the businessmen come out, we can lend a hand and give them legitimacy, it'll make more money for the kids," Fred Smerlas, who was a 5-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL, says.
Smerlas was seen giving Roosevelt Bouie a big hug during one the interviews saying, "I love this guy." An example of how while the stars are there for the charity, they're also there to have fun playing golf.
"We played in different eras," Lawrence Moten says. "From Roosevelt (Bouie) to Pearl (Washington), to myself, different eras and a different time. They're one of the reasons why people decide to come to Syracuse, they're style of play. I consider those guys pioneers, they had a lot to do with guys coming to Syracuse."
It's a common feeling among these legends that they feel the need to give back to a community who cheered for them for so many years.
"All of us that are professionals athletes, at some point, someone did something for us, to kick start us in the right direction. One thing I like to say about Upstate New York, they give back to their communities," Bouie says.