Student Takes Shot at Crowdfunding to Improve Golf Swing and Course in Life

She could be hitting off the driving range or putting on the practice green. It doesn’t matter to Denise Miller. The high school senior who only took up the game of golf two years ago, can already see beyond the fairway.

Miller envisions the lessons she learns at First Tee in For Worth will not only improve her golf swing, but also prepare her with the life skills she needs to move forward. First Tee is a youth development organization that impacts young people like Denise by providing them with educational programs that build character, instill life-enriching values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.

But, like many good things in life, those learning experiences come with a cost. That’s why the 16-year-old at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas (with parental supervision), launched a crowdfunding campaign on . She is appealing for donations between $5-$10 per month to offset the cost of her instruction with a Professional Golf Association coach.

Miller, who was accepted into the internship program at First Tee, is off to a good start. Since launching the campaign at the beginning of the month, she has reached half of her $550 fundraising goal. Miller credits much of her crowdfunding success to social media, where she was able to spread the news about her campaign beyond family and friends. YouHelp provides Miller and campaign organizers like her with a free platform to make those connections.

Success stories beyond the golf course are a legacy of the First Tee program, which began as a partnership with the Ladies Professional Golf Association, Masters Tournament, PGA of America, PGA Tour and United States Golf Association. Since its inception in 1997, First Tee has reached more than 9 million young golfers throughout the United States on courses, in schools and at other youth-serving locations.

Miller said even though most of her friends are not golfers, she was not intimidated to take up the game by herself.

“No one thinks golf is cool,” she said. “I’m a pretty individual person and golf is a very tough sport. When I do get frustrated, there is no one to blame but myself.”

Last year, her first as a member of the Martin High School Golf Team, Miller found very little to fault. She was named outstanding junior varsity golfer, an honored that surprised her. Not about to rest on her laurels, she is very much aware of the mental aspects of the game.

“I try not to think negatively, even after a bad shot,” she said. “I try to be positive, practice each day, look at one shot at a time and hope for the best.”

Right now, Miller is looking ahead to college and a possible career in public relations, maybe within the golf industry. In the meantime, she is embracing the tenets of the First Tee program: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment

“The game is more fun when you know what you are doing, but golf is not just about the sport,” said Miller. “It can lead to so many things.” offers the best in crowdfunding capabilities to forward-thinking organizations, groups and individuals who want to connect their campaigns to the public. The process is simple: create a profile, a fundraising goal, and compelling message that prospects will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, people will pledge their support.

About the Author: Staff Writer for

Glad to Hear It! Crowdfunding Provides Answers for Mocked Army Veteran to Purchase Vehicle

When a group of strangers heard a 75-year-old Army veteran was ridiculed for trying to sell his hearing aids to purchase a wheelchair-accessible vehicle that would take him to cancer treatments, they refused to turn a deaf ear to his plight.

Gilbert Hoppe, who has been battling cancer for more than five years from his home in Minnesota, had put pictures of his hearing aids on a Facebook sales site in the hope that he would find a buyer. Hoppe, had been doing well, but the cancer has reappeared in his bones, back and lungs. To make matters worse, he has lost a kidney since his cancer battle began and his wife has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Hoppe has taken on caring for her as well.

To his dismay, what he found was a slew of cruel comments.

Army veteran Hoppe who served in the Army from 1962 to 1966, was humbled to find that not all reactions to his online post were nasty and that he had friends he had never met who were willing to rally around him with acts of kindness.  His supporters, Kristi Bighley, Christ Wright and Christina Anderson, organized a crowdfunding page along with a silent auction that has raised nearly $20,000 to help Hoppe purchase a wheelchair-accessible vehicle that will take him to and from the VA in Mankato.

Today crowdfunding websites provide veterans as well as many other underserved individuals with a platform to raise funds to purchase a car or repair an existing vehicle.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said that crowdfunding has the potential to help individuals, nonprofits, small businesses and entire communities solve transportation issues impacting health, education, and employment.

Kristi Bighley, one of the first to jump in and defend the army veteran, said the comments posted to Hoppe's Facebook page broke her heart.

Regardless, when asked how the outpouring of support made him feel, Hoppe said, "Good. Couldn't feel any better.", the free fundraising website enables individuals, nonprofit organizations, businesses and entrepreneurs to increase their opportunities for success by safely showcasing their projects, ventures and ideas to a pool of potential investors and donors throughout the world. The process is simple: sign-up, create a profile, a fundraising goal, and compelling message that prospects will find worthwhile — and launch. If the idea is deserving, people will pledge their support.

About the Author: Staff Writer for YouHelp