Courtesy Photo| Retired LPGA champion golfer Lorena Ochoa meets with students at La Barranca Educational Center in Mexico. The elementary and middle school is funded by the nonprofit Lorena Ochoa Foundation and serves underprivileged children.
Santa Clarita, CA – For the third year in a row, Valencia-based manufacturer American Hakko is hitting the greens with retired pro golfer Lorena Ochoa to raise money for underprivileged children in Mexico.
The third annual Lorena Ochoa Foundation Charity Classic is set for Tuesday, May 19, at the Valencia Country Club. Last year, the tournament drew 100 women golfers and raised more than $90,000 for the foundation, and organizers hope to see that dollar amount increase this year. A total of 104 players are registered for this year.
“Those children need help, and this tournament is a great way for us to raise support,” said Hitoshi Fujiwara, president and CEO of American Hakko. “There is a true reward in being able to give back and help the communities in which we work.”
The Lorena Ochoa Foundation’s main project is the La Barranca Educational Center, an elementary and middle school for underprivileged children on the outskirts of Guadalajara. The innovative curriculum incorporates learning tools such as art and dialogue, games, exposure to nature and more. Each classroom has two dedicated professors, and in the afternoons the school is open to the community to participate in soccer, judo, computer labs, dance lessons, music and drama workshops.
“It has been a dream come true to give them opportunities to succeed,” Ochoa said of the students at La Barranca. “I played golf for that reason.”
Ochoa was the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) rookie of the year in 2003, and player of the year four years in a row. She started playing golf at age five and advanced rapidly. By 13, she was the only player in the world to win for five consecutive years the Junior World International Championship and World Junior Golf Championship. She has won 129 local, national and international titles, 27 Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) events and two Majors. In 2010, she stepped back from her golf career to focus on her family, charity work, golf course design and personal projects.
American Hakko’s journey toward helping support the school really began when the company took a chance on a new market. Founded in 1984 as an offshoot of its Japanese parent company, the soldering tool manufacturer set up distribution in Mexico in the early 2000s, investing in the country’s economy.
Fujiwara, who wanted to find a way to give back to the communities in which Hakko worked, met Ochoa at a golf tournament. Himself a golfer, Fujiwara knew who she was and had a great deal of respect for her. As he learned more about her charitable work, he wanted to help support it. That led to the organization of the Charity Classic golf tournament, aimed at women golfers. Unlike some charity golf tournaments that bear the name of well-known celebrity golfers, Ochoa makes a point to be present on the course, connecting with every player.
“Lorena has such a dynamic personality, and it has been great to partner with her in supporting the school,” Fujiwara said.
Following a morning of golf, including tips from Ochoa, golfers will gather for an awards luncheon at the Country Club, including thank-you gifts made by students at La Barranca.
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