Desporte tourney

Junie Desporte tourney returns Sunday — Published in the Sun Herald

By PRISCILLA LOEBENBERG — Special to the Sun Herald

BILOXI — Organizers of a charity golf tournament taking place on Sunday said they are poised for a comeback.

The Desporte family holds their Junie Desporte Golf Tournament annually to raise money to help locals pay for cancer treatments in honor of Emile “Junie” Desporte III. But, after they were forced to cancel the tournament two years ago, the 2012 tournament failed to recapture the excitement (and sponsorship) it initially received.

Angel Desporte Harrelson said the family formed the Junie Desporte Foundation after her father died from cancer in 2007. More than $10,000 was raised around the time of his funeral to start the charity that helps address an issue the namesake became passionate about in his last years. Harrelson said her father was blessed with good insurance and the money to pay for three years of treatments, but he met many people who couldn’t afford to pay for the care that would give them more time with their families.

“It drove him crazy,” she said about the disparity. “Even if we don’t ever raise a million dollars; at least we know we are doing something he would be proud of.”

After the BP oil spill, which severely impacted the family business — Desporte & Sons Seafood Market & Deli — and the death of another family member to cancer in 2011, the close-knit family was not able to hold the annual tournament.

“Then, we were just trying to survive,” said Harrelson.

But now, she said, the family is able and more committed than ever to honor her father the best way they know how.

“We want people to have a good time because that is what he was about — life,” said son Sean Desporte.

He would want people to come out to his “sanctuary” to drink beer, eat good food and have fun in his memory, said Sean.

The tournament begins with shotgun starts Sunday at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Sunkist Country Club. Team entry for a four-man scramble is $500. Hole sponsorships are still available for $100. Call 432-1018 or 365-0212 for more information.