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The York County Special Olympics Celebrity Golf Classic has become a true institution on the local sports landscape.

For more than a quarter of a century, businesses, social clubs and everyday people from around the area have happily supported this worthy cause.

After all, everyone knows about the inspiring work that Special Olympics does each and every day.

That's why each year, folks from all around the county, and beyond, gladly dish out a significant amount of cash to participate in the event. This year's 27th Celebrity Golf Classic has an entry fee of $1,100 per foursome.

That's not chump change. Anyone who has been in these parts for long knows that York Countians are not easily separated from their check books, especially when the number in the corner hits four figures. But for this cause and this event, they're more than willing to do it. The fact that this year's field is sold out is proof of that.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the local golfers who sign up for the tournament will get to play a beautiful course (Out Door Country Club), enjoy some fine food and rub elbows with dozens of well-known sports celebrities.

It's a proven formula that has raised more than $600,000 over the years for York County Special Olympics.

This year's event is less than two weeks away, set for Monday, June 15.

As usual, the tournament will feature a large number of former NFL players. That's to be expected. The event's founders were longtime NFL players George Tarasovic and Eddie Khayat.

In all, more than 30 celebrities have agreed to attend, including former Super Bowl champs Sam Havrilak, Glenn Ressler, Dick Bielski, Dwayne Woodruff and John Bunting and former NFL champions Pete Retzlaff, Billy Ray Barnes, Maxie Baughan and Khayat. Other former NFL players who have committed to attending are Red Lion High School graduate Scott Fitzkee, Stan White, Andre Collins, Lou Michaels and Bruce Laird. Former Penn State and Baltimore Colts' great Lenny Moore may also be there.

While the guest list is dominated by ex-NFL players, other sports will be represented. York's own Mark Hendrickson, who played in the NBA and Major League Baseball, is expected to attend, as is former major league pitcher Dave Johnson and respected NCAA Division I basketball official Duke Edsall, who is a Susquehannock High School graduate and the brother of Maryland football coach Randy Edsall.

One of the more intriguing celebrities expected for the event this year is Tom DePaso. Some may remember him as a standout linebacker at Penn State in the mid-1970s who enjoyed a brief NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals before becoming a lawyer. Others may recognize his name from recent news headlines.

DePaso, you see, is the general counsel for the NFL Players Association. As such, he's been smack in the middle of the league's biggest controversy — Deflategate. DePaso recently wrote a widely-circulated letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell outlining the union's case for Tom Brady's appeal and threatening to take the matter to court if Goodell does not appoint a neutral third-party to oversee the process. That's something that Goodell says he will not do.

As nearly everyone knows, the New England Patriots' star quarterback has been suspended four games for his alleged role in Deflategate.

Despite his pivotal role in one of sports' biggest stories, DePaso still plans to travel from his Washington office to participate in the June 15 tournament.

That's really what the Special Olympics tournament is all about — folks, both celebrities and non-celebrities, taking time out of their busy lives to support a great cause.

It's a formula that's worked for more than 25 years, and hopefully it will continue for generations to come.

Steve Heiser is sports editor for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.

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