Passing the conch – Conch Scramble Charity Golf Tournament

After 10 years of dedication, Michelle Pope is passing the conch as president of the Conch Scramble Charity Golf Tournament. The annual event has raised over $1,000,000 since its inception, with nearly every penny benefiting local youth in the Keys.

The event had a few name changes early on, including the Conch Classic, but its mission has been the same over the past twenty years. A mission to provide financial support and spread awareness for local youth charities and organizations.

As president, Michelle has spear- headed this mission with admirable dedication, working tirelessly with an unwavering smile. She has made it a priority in her life for the past decade, and has done an incredible job bringing the community together to support deserving causes year after year.

Her determination and sincere belief in the mission have made the Conch Scramble Charity Golf Tournament one of the most popular fundraisers in the Keys. Participants, sponsors, and donors return every year, not only for the great causes it supports but also because it’s just plain fun.

Instead of playing on a manicured golf course, floating targets are set on the water, and teams hit golf balls made of fish food from nearby land or docks. Teams boat from hole to hole and usually wear themed costumes and decorate their boats to match.

The 2023 Conch Scramble tickets sold out in thirty minutes! Ticket sales, donations, and the silent auction brought in $61,000, benefiting the Key Largo School Football & Cheer teams, PKS PTA, and Coral Shores Football Booster Club.

As yet another huge success, this year’s tournament was a good note for Michelle to leave on. She was ready to pass the presidential conch to her successors, knowing they and her fellow board members would carry on their important mission.

“Michelle has done such a great job as president that the event nearly runs itself at this point,” Claudia Stober, fellow board member in charge of the silent auction, says, “but we’re replacing her with three people to ensure it continues as the well-oiled machine she built.”

Sam Arce, Tim Arce, and Kelly Randin are filling Michelle’s shoes, sharing the role as co-presidents. Everyone, including Michelle, is confident it will be a seamless transition since most members have been on the board for many years.

Jason Lyman has been a board member since the very beginning. He developed and refined the reusable targets that he sets up every year for the event, getting up at the crack of dawn to do so. He knows the commitment it takes to have a successful Conch Scramble and has appreciated Michelle’s enthusiasm through the years.

“Michelle brought high energy, and her confidence was very reassuring,” Jason says. “She took the reins and charged forward like a good leader should.”

Stepping down as president was a hard decision, but after this year’s closing ceremony, Michelle shared her admiration for the board, saying, “Your support, your dedication, your zest for fun is never ending! I will miss working with you, but I have full faith in where you can take this event!”

Just like her colleagues, Michelle has always been in the background, making sure everything runs as it should, not just during the event but all the planning that leads up to it. It’s a lot of hard work, but Michelle has always taken it in stride.

“Michelle is the most disciplined and hard-working woman I have ever met,” Allan says, and we are all thankful to have her in our lives.”

Now, Michelle is excited to enjoy next year’s Conch Scramble firsthand. Claudia is happy for her, too, saying, “I look forward to seeing Michelle at next year’s Scramble, dressed up and having fun with other participants.”

Michelle Pope will miss and be missed by the board, but her dedication will be remembered, not only captured in the hilarious photos of the events but also in the stepping stones she helped lay for countless kids in the community.

On behalf of the Keys community, we thank Michelle Pope for her hard work and heartfelt enthusiasm that helped fuel such an incredible event for the past ten years. We can’t wait to see you swinging a club at next year’s Conch Scramble Charity Golf Tournament!

– Jerrica Mah is a writer, Army wife, and freelance book editor, who loves to travel with her family.

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