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Clair Peterson compared the moment to Baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams hitting a home run in the final at-bat of his illustrious career. The retiring John Deere Classic (JDC) tournament director shared the revelation Monday, Oct. 31, as tournament leaders announced this summer’s local PGA Tour stop raised a record $13.9 million for area charities via the Birdies for Charity program. This year’s total of $13,908,668 – which included a whooping 7% bonus on top of donations collected for each charity -- exceeds by $89,514 the previous record set by the JDC in 2019. Since the Quad Cities PGA Tour stop started in 1971, a total of $159.57 million charity dollars now have been raised by the tournament. Of that, more than 98% has been raised since the Moline-based John Deere assumed title sponsorship in 1998. Mr. Peterson acknowledged the fundraising record put a cherry atop his retirement cake. He officially steps away from day-to-day operations on Dec. 31 after 20 years as the JDC’s tournament director. But he will continue working part-time as a player liaison recruiting PGA pros to the local event. “Obviously, it doesn't come down to one person,” Mr. Peterson said. “And it's gratifying to know that the program and the tournament is in great hands -- and going forward, there's going to be more records ahead, certainly.” The public announcement Monday at John Deere Commons in downtown Moline drew representatives from many of the 481 local charities participating in the Birdies for Charity program. According to the tournament, the $13.9 million fundraising total works out to approximately $37 for each of the Quad Cities’ 375,000 residents. That again makes the JDC the No. 1 tournament in per capita contributions on the regular PGA Tour -- a distinction the event has held for more than a decade now. “It's something to celebrate here in a community of our size,” said Micaela Booth, the new director of the Birdies for Charity program. “The Quad Cities community really makes all of this happen – and our wonderful sponsor in John Deere and all the supporters of the tournament and the donors and charities who participate. “This year we broke our own record, so we set the bar pretty high. But we always say our goal is just one dollar more – and if we can do that next year, it’ll be a success,” she added. The public announcement followed a morning breakfast across the street at the newly rebranded Vibrant Arena at The Mark, where the tournament thanked its major donors, charitable organizations, and local media members. The Birdies celebration concluded by awarding the grand prize of a two-year lease on a 2022 Lexus to the donor correctly guessing the number of birdies made during the tournament (see below). John Deere underwrites the administrative costs of the Birdies for Charity program, which means 100% of the pledges collected go directly to the charities designated by donors. The tournament sponsor also offers a matching grant for the bonus fund, which consists of tournament revenues, direct undesignated donations and proceeds from special events hosted throughout the year by the JDC. Ms. Booth said Deere’s matching grant this year was $325,000. “It's pretty incredible,” she said, noting the program guaranteed a 5% bonus. “It's just an accumulation of everything that we've worked hard for through the whole year to make that number as big as possible. Being able to deliver these funds to charities now is so rewarding.” This was the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic the tournament was able to host a public celebration where charities could collect their checks in person. A whopping $12.2 million was raised in 2020 despite the tournament’s cancellation because of pandemic shutdowns and precautions. “For our staff, this is the most rewarding day because this is why we do what we do,” said Andrew Lehman, who is succeeding Mr. Peterson as tournament director. “This is such a great day for the community and all of our local nonprofits, and it's just really something that we're all very proud of. Not only is it the end of the cycle where we're giving all the money to charity, but it's also a chance for us to flip the calendar and we're on to 2023 to start that process over now, too.”