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Auburn great Kendall Simmons hosting annual Swing For Diabetes tournament at Moore’s Mill Golf Course

It’s not always about football in Auburn. Sometimes, it’s about golf. While former Auburn guard Kendall Simmons might be better at tackling than putting, winning isn’t the point of the fourth annual golf tournament he co-hosts each year.

Swing for Diabetes is slated for Monday at Moore’s Mill Golf Course, located on Fairway Drive off of Moore’s Mill Road.

Since 2008, Simmons has teamed up with former Auburn golfer Diana Ramage to host the fundraising tournament in Auburn. Both Simmons and Ramage live with type 1 diabetes. Ramage was diagnosed as a child, while Simmons was diagnosed after his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After his diagnosis, Simmons helped lead the team to the 2005 Super Bowl title.

The golf tournament holds a personal meaning for Simmons since he and his family relocated to Auburn after his retirement. The money raised benefits East Alabama Medical Center’s Diabetes and Nutrition Center so everything stays local, Simmons said.

“The money helps EAMC put on education classes and helps purchase supplies for people who can’t afford them otherwise,” he said. “Before this partnership, I didn’t realize how many people couldn’t afford diabetes supplies and how many people EAMC helps.”

Registration for the four-man scramble tournament is open until the day of the event, and individuals can sign up as well as teams. Last year’s total raised topped $20,000, Simmons said.

“We just try to keep improving it every year to help the cause,” he said. “Each year, what we’ve raised has increased.”

This year, there’s a smartphone app participants can use which will be displayed at the tournament. There are multiple sponsors including Blue Bell Ice Cream, Steak Out, Hamilton’s and Maestro 2300 as well as a raffle and door prizes for participants.

Not a golfer? Not a problem. Simmons says donations will be accepted online at swingfordiabetesauburn.com.

“Diabetes presents a challenge to every shape, size and color of human beings,” Simmons said. “We all need to be educated about it, to be aware.”

Simmons, a spokesperson for NovoNordisk, a diabetes pharmaceutical company, has learned more about diabetes since his diagnosis than he thought imaginable. He’s also learned how much inaccurate knowledge is readily available.

“So many people think it’s only about obesity, but it’s not,” he said. “We don’t make a big effort to educate others till they are affected by it.”

Simmons, originally diagnosed incorrectly with type 2 diabetes, was in the best shape of his life at the time of his diagnosis. “It changes everything,” he said.

“I want to bring as much awareness to this as possible,” Simmons said. “I care about the people of East Alabama, and I’m just like them, I’m one of them.”

The tournament is a sponsored event, and Simmons makes no profit as 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Diabetes and Nutrition Center at EAMC.

“They are on a fairly small budget,” Simmons said. “This significantly helps their ability to meet the growing needs of the community.

“I am fortunate, and I want to help others who can’t always take care of themselves,” he said. “There are so many people who need help and don’t know how to get it or people who don’t know there are resources available.”

Simmons says every little bit makes a difference.

“We’ll take $10,” he said. “We’ll take $10,000.”

For more information, to donate or to register, visit swingfordiabetesauburn.com.

Follow Kendall on Twitter @bigk73.

Victoria Cumbow is a 2008 Auburn graduate. She’s a Communications Specialist with HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville and a freelance journalist. Find her online at victoriacumbow.com  and follow her on Twitter @victoriacumbow.

Related: Auburn great Kendall Simmons is full-time diabetes advocate.

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