Cannon School golfer raising money for Kenyan hospital

The last thing N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A girls’ golf teams in the state need is for Cannon School’s players to be more inspired than they already are. Winners of the last three state championships, the Cougars have a fourth straight title on their minds.

Among Cannon’s three returning players is all-state performer Anna Redding, whose results this year may have even greater importance than individual or team successes.

Redding’s Capstone Project, a service project required of all Cannon seniors, is centered around her golf game. Starting in early August and continuing into November, Redding is collecting charitable donations for every birdie she sinks in her high school or junior matches.

Named “Birdies for Babies,” the project’s proceeds will go toward the purchase of equipment for the Tenwek Hospital in Bomet, Kenya. The selection of the beneficiary was inspired by the goodwill trips Redding’s father, Dr. Mark Redding, has made to the hospital over the past five years.

“I’ve always wanted to go there but it’s gotten a little unsafe recently,” said Anna Redding. “I thought I could still be involved this way.”

Redding’s goal is to raise $20,000, enough to buy two neo-natal incubators for the Tenwek Hospital. Redding’s research says that one incubator can provide care for up to 75 infants per year.

Redding has become one of the best high school golfers in the state over the past four years. She started playing competitively at 13 and played two years for Cannon’s middle school team before making the high school team as a freshman.

Last year, Redding’s average score for nine holes was 37.8. She was named all-conference and all-state for the third straight season and she was the CISAA individual champion.

Among Redding’s junior golf highlights was qualifying for the U.S. Girls Junior Championship in Flagstaff, Ariz., in July. She won the North and South Junior Girls Championship at Pinehurst No. 1 in 2013.

“(The North and South tournament) was the first time I put three really good rounds together in a tournament,” said Redding. “I just took off. I knew (playing golf was) what I wanted to do.”

Redding started thinking about her Capstone Project last spring and wondered if there was a way she could tie it into golf. The thought lingered into the summer and it gained some traction when she talked it over with her father on the way back to their Concord home from a tournament in Florida.

Beginning in late July, Anna Redding began soliciting donations from friends, family, and members of the golf community at her home course of Cabarrus Country Club. Beneficiaries may contribute single donations or pay a specific voluntary amount per birdie Redding makes over the next two months.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Cannon coach Pat Whisenant. “As she leads Cannon, this will certainly be on my mind and it will be on hers. But it will not be added pressure. She’s comfortable with who she is and in her golf game.”

Three weeks into her efforts, Redding had collected $1,950 in simple donations. Between those donations and pledges to contribute per birdie, Redding says 55 people have already dedicated their support. Her goal is to have at least 100 supporters.

Redding figures she cards a birdie on 10 percent of the holes she plays. She will play about 20 competitive rounds through November which will produce approximately 36 birdies. Contributors can figure out the math to determine how much they want to pledge.

Through mid-August, Redding is proud to say her birdies are ahead of schedule. She had 15 under-par holes over six rounds in two tournaments.

Redding is set to continue her golf career next year after graduation. She has accepted an offer to play at the University of Virginia.