Fred Funk & Tommy Zitiello Launch 3rd Annual Champions For Hope Gala & Golf Classic



Successful Event Funds Pancreas Cancer Research & Helps the First Coast Disabled Community


June 17, 2019– Ponte Vedra Beach, FL – The Funk-Zitiello Foundation hosted the 3rd annual

Champions for Hope Gala & Celebrity Golf Classic at TPC Sawgrass, home of The PLAYERS,

on June 7-8, 2019.  The charity gala and golf tournament, which raised more than $700,000 will benefit two important causes in our Northeast Florida community–a grant to fund important pancreas cancer research through Mayo Clinic and support for adults and children living with disabilities on the First Coast through The JT Townsend Foundation. The weekend event was presented by Title Partner Ally Financial® and sponsored by Swisher International, First Coast News, AutoNation, PGA TOUR, Celgene, Montoya & Associates, CDZ Sales, Florida Blue, IPSEN, Team 1, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Kash Krisnarao plus several other organizations and individual sponsors across the Nation.


Funk-Zitiello Foundation’s Managing Director, Judi Zitiello, is a five-year pancreatic cancer survivor and this event is truly a personal journey for her. “This year we wanted to continue raising awareness for the tremendous needs of these two important causes. Thank you to all of the partners for their incredible support this year and for helping us provide hope to those who need it most. What we are doing together is truly changing lives and saving lives,” said Judi Zitiello.


The weekend kicked off with a breakfast and program at Mayo Clinic, featuring a team of Mayo doctors, researchers and clinicians. In attendance were Funk-Zitiello Foundation and JT Townsend Board Members, Champions for Hope Golf Sponsors and pancreas cancer survivors and families. The doctors from Mayo shared promising advancements in their research to develop new treatments and tools for non-invasive, early detection of Pancreas Cancer. Proceeds from Champions for Hope are fueling this progress.


“We’re bringing new tools, such as artificial intelligence, to pancreas cancer research to find the early warning signs of the disease and change the way we treat it,” said Dr. Michael Wallace, M.D., MPH, gastroenterologist and co-director, Pancreatic Cancer Discovery and Translation Team, Mayo Clinic. “We have a lot of reason to be optimistic about the future and that’s why the funding from Champions for Hope is so important,” added Dr. Wallace.”


“In addition to improving early diagnosis, we need to find a way to break pancreas cancer’s resistance to therapies and our body’s immune system,” said Dr. Kabir Mody, a consultant in hematology and oncology and assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic. “We’re making exciting progress on that front, as well, and we’re grateful to have the continued support of Champions for Hope and everyone who supports the tournament,” added Dr. Mody.


For Fred Funk, one of the Co-Founders of Champions for Hope, this event was personal. “Our third annual event was a huge success working alongside Co-Founder and friend Tommy Zitiello and the Champions for Hope event team. In 2019, our Title Partner Ally Financial® helped to elevate the event beyond our greatest expectations with the support and team of more than 80 volunteers. I am honored to be a part of this Foundation to continue to help others in our Northeast Florida community,” said Funk.

The Champions for Hope weekend included a Friday evening Gala, hosted at TPC Sawgrass. A dinner, silent and live auction, and performance by The RiverTown Band made for the perfect evening. Over 250 guests attended the Gala, and more than a dozen local celebrities shared in both the gala and golf tournament. Celebrity guests included Len Mattiace, Curtis Dvorak Josh Lambo, Bryan Barker, Jeff Klauk, Bob Dickson, Todd Philcox, Tom McManus, Adam Podlash and many more.


The JT Townsend Gospel Choir made for an uplifting start to the morning at the famed TPC Stadium course. Local food and beverage partners and vendors were featured on every hole, with golf challenges incorporated throughout the day. Curtis Dvorak spent the entire day at The Stadium Course legendary “Island Green” Hole 17, greeting each foursome that came through with his big smile and a friendly challenge to beat his shot at the green and had his first-ever, hole-in-one (from his knees) on the famous 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass!


To make the day complete, Ponte Vedra’s John Craig Clothier presented Champions for Hope Purple Jackets to the Florida Blue and CDZ Sales teams who tied to win the tournament.


Funk-Zitiello Foundation

The Funk-Zitiello Foundation was launched in 2016 by 2005 PLAYERS Champion, Fred Funk and local businessman Tommy Zitiello. The mission of the foundation is to help the community by taking the challenges of individuals and turning them into initiatives that can provide hope and funding to those dealing with extraordinary obstacles. The 3rd year event supported two local causes: the JT Townsend Foundation to help families living with disabilities and a grant to fund pancreatic cancer research through Mayo Clinic. To date,   JT Townsend Foundation has helped over 450 families with more than $825,000 in adaptive equipment/assistance.



For more information and media inquiries:  Pauline Gerry, AZMARK, Inc.                 904-728-4722.


To donate: visit or mail check to:

Funk-Zitiello Foundation, 830 N. Florida A1A, Suite 13 #187, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082 (write Champions for Hope) in the memo section.


Text to Pledge Today: 904.530.2331


To get involved or learn more: visit or email