Memorial tournament allows buddies to play for Sam

RYAN OLSON PICKS UP a prize Saturday from Linda and Mark Mulleady, Sam Safken’s parents, at the Sam Safken Memorial Golf Tournament.

Ryan Olson, Omar Velayudhan and C.J. Stocks are busy people.

The three Fruita Monument High School graduates are working and going to college full time, but they found time this weekend to come home and honor the memory of a childhood friend.

The three teamed up with Stocks’ sister Saturday to play in the second annual Sam Safken Memorial Golf Tournament at Adobe Creek Golf Course.

“I was disappointed in myself I didn’t make the last tournament,” Velayudhan said. “It was a good opportunity for us to come together in Sam’s memory. It helps bring us together and keep us closer.”

The three were among nearly 90 people who participated in the tournament started in Safken’s memory.

“I just miss him,” said Sam’s brother, Joe Safken. “It’s great to see everyone come together. I feel him (here). The people that know him know what kind of guy he was. He would’ve given his shirt for anybody.”

Safken, a 2004 Fruita Monument High School graduate, died of complications from Ewing’s Sarcoma 25 months ago at the age of 21.

Since then, his family started the Sam Safken Foundation to help athletes who are less fortunate pay for fees and equipment and to educate the public on donating bone marrow for people who need a transplant.

The foundation has awarded two scholarships in the amount of $500 each to a Fruita Monument High School student, donated $300 to Grand Valley youth football, $100 to Rocky Mountain Elementary School for a field trip, paid $350 rent for a less fortunate family and sponsored a fundraiser for a Grand Junction High School student.

“This is a great cause,” Olson said. “It was great to get together again. I never see C.J. and it is great to see Joey and Linda (Mulleady, Safken’s mother).”

Olson is a petroleum engineering student at Colorado School of Mines. Stocks is a law student at the University of Utah and Velayudhan attends Mesa State College.

“The whole week it was bad weather and we come out today and it’s beautiful,” Velayudhan said. “It shows Sam is looking down on us.”

“Sam was the leader of the group,” Stocks said. “Anything you can do for the guy. He was always there when you needed it. It’s really good to be with friends and support his memory for a great cause.”


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