The former Sonic and his wife, Mari, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for kids at a celebrity golf tournament and Detlef Schrempf Foundation gala.
As the story goes, Detlef Schrempf was afraid that when he left the Seattle SuperSonics in 1999 and retired in 2001 after two years with the Portland Trail Blazers, people would forget about him.
Worse, they’d stop supporting the Detlef Schrempf Foundation he and his wife, Mari, started in 1993, and find some other charity to support.
But no. After 22 years, the foundation just keeps growing, adding more events (the St. Patty’s Day Dash and the Taste of Main), filling bigger rooms and raising more than $15 million for the Inspire Youth Project and The Healing Center, both focused on kids whose lives are falling apart.
Last week, when it seemed the region had had its share of golf, thanks to the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, Schrempf filled the course at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, giving each group of players a celebrity partner. Among them, Seattle native and Charlotte Hornet Spencer Hawes, retired Indiana Pacer Sam Perkins, actor/comedian Ryan Stiles (“Whose Line Is it Anyway?”) and even former Huskies head coach Rick Neuheisel. (What? I didn’t say anything).
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That evening, they poured into Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center for a gala that featured a performance by former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker.
Rucker, who has a six handicap, hosts his own “Monday After the Masters” golf tournament, so he knew what Schrempf was up against, hosting two events in one day, and trying to keep people around and giving after the big clubs had left town.
“I came because Det asked me to,” Rucker said, adding that he attended the foundation’s second golf classic 21 years ago, just as Hootie was hitting it big.
Rucker lives in Charleston, where “everyone knows someone” who died in the shootings at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church a few days before.
“It’s very sad,” he said. “But it has only made us stronger.”
At the reception before dinner, people were catching their second winds and throwing handicaps around. One group of guys who flew in from Salt Lake City took third place — and would hopefully take a Far West cab home (The foundation had arranged them, for free).
The group included Jon Wright, the two-time Utah state amateur golf champion (2012 and 2014) who loved the event — especially meeting Schrempf.
“Makes me feel bad that we rooted for the Jazz all those years,” he said.
Teammate Bryan Bagley held up the purple jacket each received as third-place winners. It was too big for him.
“Would you like to buy it?” (It was a 52 regular; I’ll pass).
Inside the ballroom, auctioneer John Curley — along with KING5 morning anchor Mark Wright, who stepped in at the last minute to emcee — wolfed down his dinner.
“I do 100 of these things a year,” Curley told me between bites. “Thank God KING5 fired me.” (What? I didn’t say anything.)
Years ago, he bought a Ralph Wade auctioneering CD on eBay for $32 and practiced while he ran, even called Wade for advice. (“Eights are the hardest thing to do.”)
Steve Vernon came into the room carrying a guitar. He went home and got it after the golf tournament, where Rucker had promised to sign it for him.
“He’s a six handicap, I believe,” Vernon said of Rucker.
“I’m just handicapped,” Vernon cracked. “I’m horrible. But it was a great day.”
Also in the room: Steve Goldfarb (who donated $5,000 worth of bling), Kevin and Susan Calabro, Brent Barry.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere (in a T-Mobile T-shirt and matching fuchsia Chuck Taylors) passed by. In April, while staying in the Trump Tower, Legere complained about a drummer playing on the street outside the hotel. Staffers got the drummer to move, and Legere tweeted out praise for the hotel’s customer service.
Then @realDonaldTrump tweeted in, calling T-Mobile’s service “terrible,” adding, “I don’t want it in my buildings.”
Responded Legere: “I will serve all customers in the USA openly but I will obviously leave your hotel right away based on this. #checkingout.”
Legere did some damage on the live-auction items, buying a dinner for 10 at Canlis and a wingback chair customized to look like a Seahawks throne — and signed by Coach Pete Carroll.
“Come on!” Legere said. “It’s gonna look cool in my office.”
The very tall Stiles (he’s 6 feet 6 inches; thanks, Google), who grew up in West Seattle, now lives on Lake Samish in Bellingham and doesn’t come down here much. But he was happy to do it for the foundation.
A staffer handed him a yellow envelope with a receipt in it. Did he win something in the silent auction?
“I never remember spending anything,” he said, peering at the receipt. “What did I buy, radio stocks?”
Whatever he spent, it helped the event raise a record $935,000.
Mari Schrempf told the crowd that she is now getting LinkedIn requests from kids who got help from the foundation in the early days, and are now thriving.
“When caring adults step in and create a safe and supportive space,” she told the crowd, “damage can be reversed.”