Turning Point receives $2,500 donation from memorial golf tournament

By Christie Wisniewski , Bennington Banner

BENNINGTON —It was after Bill Potter's 22-year-old son died from a drug overdose that Potter and his wife knew they wanted to do something in his memory.

The Potters' son, Jacob Butler, was an energetic, athletic, talented young man with a knack for making others smile, his father said. To hold onto his memory, the couple organized a for-charity golf tournament at the Dutchhaven Golf Course in Buskirk, N.Y. This annual tournament, which began in 2014, the year following Butler's death, is now known as the Jacob Butler Memorial Golf Tournament.

"We started it with low expectations, not knowing what we were doing but with the help of people at Dutchhaven our first year went really well," Potter said. The first year, proceeds went toward the varsity sports team their son played for.

Before the second year of the tournament, Potter's wife died after a battle with breast cancer. This year, the tournament's proceeds were given to the Bennington Cancer Center. These tragic losses did not stop Potter from continuing the tournaments.

Now, after five years of holding this tournament for a cause, Potter, who lives in New York but grew up in Bennington, was able to split the $5,000 proceeds between Bennington's Turning Point Center and Washington County N.Y. Friends of Recovery, both addiction recovery programs that Potter says he wishes he had known about when his son was struggling.

"They do great work," Potter said. "I wish we would have found them five years ago."

The Jacob Butler Memorial Golf Tournament is held the first Saturday in August. Potter says 2018 was the best year for the tournament yet, with 92 golfers participating. There was a morning and an afternoon game, followed by a chicken barbecue and live music from local bands. Potter says some of the money is from silent auction donations, and many local businesses support the cause.

"Everybody has been so supportive," he said.

In addition to raising money for a good cause, Potter hopes to turn around the stigma of addiction and help others who are struggling just as his son did.

"He was a great kid," Potter said. "He was everybody's buddy, everybody's friend. He just got caught up in it, unfortunately."

Potter wants people to know there is help for those who need it, whether it's a center like Turning Point or a Friends of Recovery program.

"They do great work," he said. "I'm really proud to be affiliated with them, to be able to support them."

Potter says the tournament is "just a small thing" that is being done to help, but it fits perfectly with his son's positive and caring disposition.

"Everywhere he went, he made people smile and made people laugh," Potter said. "It was just the way he was. He wanted people to be happy."

Christie Wisniewski can be reached at cwisniewski@benningtonbanner.com and at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.