A career move out of our area hasn’t put an end to an ongoing initiative that features golf and other activities in helping protect children and others.

Although Jon Parla relocated to Atlanta during the holiday season in becoming a general sales manager with the CBS Radio Network, he continues to spearhead the many various efforts of The Passion Foundation, which he cofounded with his late wife, Tara, when she was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma in early 2010.

The seventh annual Tri-Town Classic Charity Golf Tournament benefiting the organization at Stoneybrook Golf Club in Estero on May 6 was followed with the launch of the latest tangible results of its efforts at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new sun-protective canopy in a children’s play area at Three Oaks Elementary School.

Marking the foundation’s second such installation at the facility and its eighth overall, the opening was originally scheduled for May 4, which would have been Tara’s 41st birthday, but rain forced postponement.

“It was an appropriate day to try to do it,” Parla, who had been a sales manager with the Beasley Media Group for nearly 10 years, said at the golf tourney. “We’d like to do more.”

They also held their fourth annual World Famous Cigar Bar Charity Golf Tournament in October at West Bay Beach & Golf Club as more than 80 golfers helped raise about $15,000. Parla said they expect to stage another fundraiser this fall.

The Passion Foundation also conducted another Tara’s Jingle Jog 5K Run & Fun Walk in December at the Estero Community Center with 200 participants and $20,000 raised. A different kind of benefit will be considered for this holiday season, according to Parla.


Out of the total field of 68 players, the top three finishing teams on the Stoneybrook course were A.J. Lurie, Ryan Beasley, Kyle Thompson and Max Haney; Bud Holler, Kevin Miskimmins, Rob Morrison and Tara’s father, Jim Simantel, and Lauran Onsa, Norman Ruiz-Castaneda and Juan Aller. Presenting sponsor Tri-Town Construction and title sponsor Estero Bay Chevrolet were joined by many other businesses that provided raffle prizes.

Brandie Dickerson, marketing manager with Tri-Town, served as main tournament coordinator for the first time with considerable assistance from company associate Danielle Kuruck. “I looked back at pictures from all the other past events while we were planning for this one and their kids were in many of them. I met them today but I really felt like I already knew them,” said Dickerson.

“We expect to spread the program in the Atlanta area,” said Parla, adding he first wants to allow his children daughter, Kendyl, and son, Kaden, to get more settled in their new surroundings.

“We’re all doing it for Tara,” said Tara’s mother, Lin Simantel, alongside Tara’s sister, Dana, both of Fort Myers who greeted each player at the first tee. “Local people started this and we’re keeping it going. Jon’s kids might take it over someday.”

Along with his devotion to Tara and the cause, Parla’s continuing role even after relocating is an expression of love for Southwest Florida and the community: “I’ll always be coming down here,” adding how pleased he is that so many players return year after year. “They knew Tara and want to keep supporting the cause.”

As Dana’s son Braxton will begin attending Three Oaks next year, Lin Simantel was particularly gratified with the organization’s work there.

“We’ll be protecting him,” she said.

Beyond the gates

The San Carlos Golf Club is offering special summer rates and benefits for single, family and junior players ... Pelican Sound Golf & River Club, Estero, will hold six separate youth tennis camps for ages 7 to 16 starting June 6-9 ... The Southwest Florida Junior Golf Association 18-hole tournaments will be held at Stoneybrook Golf Club, June 13; San Carlos Golf Club, June 20; The Forest Country Club, June 22; Raptor Bay Golf Club, June 27; Quail Creek Country Club, July 6; Estero Country Club at The Vines, July 11; TBD-July 25, and Legends Golf & Country Club, Aug. 1. Nine-hole events will also be held. Register at

Read or Share this story: