Henning honored as ‘Community Hero’

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Brookhaven resident was honored as a “Community Hero” Friday for his work in support of a local golf tournament that helps the families of soldiers who have been killed or disabled in combat.

     Jeff Henning received a $5,000 prize for the Folds of Honor Foundation as a runner-up in a nationwide contest sponsored by Safeco Insurance. He was one of 14 winners across the nation to receive a $5,000 prize.

     Winners were selected in a nationwide online vote in June. Henning was nominated by Josh Smith, of Insurance Risk Managers.

     In 1996, Henning founded “The Tucker” golf tournament in honor of Josh Smith’s brother, Lt. Michael Tucker Smith, who was killed in a car accident shortly after graduating from West Point. The tournament benefits the Folds of Honor Foundation.

     “Jeff Henning knows he can’t take away the pain of losing a loved one or dealing with a combat-related disability,” Josh Smith wrote in his nomination submission. “But through the Folds of Honor Foundation, which holds Patriot Day charity golf events at thousands of courses nationwide, he can help provide healing and hope for the future through scholarships and other assistance.”

     Henning said Tucker Smith was a person who was loved by those who knew him.

     “Tucker was a larger than life kid,” he said. “Everyone around here just loved him.”

     “The Tucker” raised more than $25,000 last year for Folds of Honor through sponsorships and participants in the tournament. More than 180 golfers participated last year, despite heavy rainfall due to Tropical Storm Lee.

     “Last year we had over 8 inches of rainfall before and on Labor Day and only one group didn’t participate,” said Henning.

     In his submission nomination, Josh Smith pointed out that Henning’s efforts allowed “The Tucker” to earn a plaque from Folds of Honor last year as one of the top 25 events out of 4,300 held nationwide.

     Proceeds from “The Tucker” go to Folds of Honor and all scholarship dollars are allocated to recipients in Mississippi, Smith said.

     Henning and Smith said the award from Safeco Insurance means a lot to them.

     “We have over 50 local sponsors, but this year Safeco is our lead sponsor,” Henning said.

     “It’s great to have Safeco helping out in our effort,” Smith added.

     This year’s Tucker tournament is scheduled for Aug. 31 through Sept. 3 at Brookhaven Country Club.

     Henning and Smith invite anyone who’s interested in participating in the tournament or sponsoring to contact them. For more information, contact Smith at 601-757-5534.