The Esther Cannizzo Junior Golf Foundation became a reality when in May of 2008, Esther Cannizzo lost her battle with lung cancer. She was a wife, mother, friend and an avid golfer. It was an untimely passing because she was young-hearted, full of life and the best mother any child could ask for. She always put her family and children first.
Esther, her husband Joe, and their children started to play golf in the mid 1970’s at a time when golf was growing in popularity. Many of their friends played, so it seemed natural for the family to start. The game of golf became a passion and a connection for their family and friends and quickly became a large part of their lifestyle. Esther seemed to find her own passion for the game. She played almost every day in the summer and competed as her game improved. She was proud when she was able to facilitate the Lakeshore Junior Golf Program at their home golf course.
Esther had a unique connection with each of her children through the game of golf. Esther and Jackie, her oldest daughter who became a golf professional, would play many rounds and tournaments together. Esther shared the ups and downs of Jackie’s playing career and was always supportive and encouraging. With Kelley, it became more of a connection when her children took up the game and it rekindled those “good old days” of Kelley’s Junior Golf experience at Lakeshore. Esther’s golf time with her son Joey would be spent playing on Sunday’s and also participating in tournaments together. Golf was truly a family affair and Esther was the center of it.
Throughout the years, Esther’s involvement in golf continued to grow and never waivered. She was very instrumental in the Junior Golf Program at Lakeshore when her children were young and again when her grandchildren became involved. Along the way she supported various charities and associations including the Syracuse Women’s Golf Association. She shared so many rounds and good times with her friends on the golf course: Toni Ann Tropea, Yolando Tooley, Mary Lou Tornatore, Rita Rinaldi, Judy Rivizzigno and Carol Palomino, to name a few. They laughed, experienced the frustration of the game and exchanged quarters from the infamous “zing game” for many, many years.
At the beginning of 2008, after being diagnosed with lung cancer, it was uncertain if Esther would ever play golf again. Through her course of treatment it was clear that she would not. As her fate became imminent and her health was failing, her children decided to do something that would honor their mother in a positive way. Generous donations flowed in from her many friends and family and they wanted to use this as an opportunity to honor Esther.
Through her professional experience, Jackie understood the needs that skilled junior golfers have for more advanced coaching and opportunities to compete and advance. As much as Esther loved golf, she also loved children, especially her own and her grandchildren. The idea to establish a Foundation to help junior golfers was a natural fit as a way to honor Esther! The Foundation would also embody Esther’s spirit of giving, selflessness, encouragement, motivation and hard work. She constantly instilled these values in her children and grandchildren.
The Esther Cannizzo Junior Golf Foundation is designed to help junior golfers in Esther’s home town of Syracuse, NY and Atlanta, Ga. The junior golfers that will receive grants will be those recommended by golf professionals, guidance counselors, and others in the golf community. These individuals will not only possess golf skills, but also the values that represent the spirit of Esther. It is through this Foundation, and the community built around it, that Esther will be honored for all she was and is to everyone she loved and loved her.