Big laughs par for course at Mariah’s Challenge outing

FAIRMONT – By Gordon VoitLeo McCarthy’s laugh can light up a room … even if his golf swing can’t.The Butte native was one of more than 160 golfers at Fairmont Golf Course on Friday raising money for Mariah’s Challenge, the organization McCarthy founded after his daughter Mariah was killed by a drunk driver more than seven years ago.

“When Butte gets together and wants to change,” he said, “we do it. It’s Butte’s tool, and actually it’s its gift to Montana, the way I look at it.”

That gift comes in the form of $1,000 scholarships to high school students who pledge not to do drugs and alcohol. This year’s goal was five or six scholarships.

McCarthy’s friend Jimm Kilmer didn’t just play in his group because of his golf skills. Kilmer’s daughter Valerie was also injured by the accident that killed Mariah. For him, helping Leo is an easy call.

“Not only does he have a dynamic personality,” Kilmer said of McCarthy, “he’s a good person. A good person and a good friend. He cares about kids and he cares about what happens to our community.”

Jon Wick, the executive director of Mariah’s Challenge, was also in the group. He himself has dealt with tragedy, as he battled cancer.

The point is, golf may not be Leo’s strong suit, but there’s a great lesson watching him on the course: When the ball goes off the back of the green in life, how do you respond?