BROOKINGS – It’s been 11 years since the Loban sisters died in a car accident, but their memories live on for their family, friends and even strangers, thanks to a golf tournament and memorial scholarship.
The 11th annual Loban Memorial Golf Tournament is set for June 3 at Meadow Creek Golf Course in Volga. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start at 9:30 a.m. It will be a four-person scramble and a $65 fee per golfer. For more information or to register, call the Meadow Creek Golf Course at 605-627-5444. The deadline to sign up is May 31.
“I believe we have a max of 20 teams,” said Katie Lambertus, one of the organizers.
“We don’t have a tournament winner, but we do have pin prizes and we do a couple raffles for golfers throughout the day,” she added.
When Ashley, 17, and Amanda, 10, were killed on their way to school May 22, 2006, “there were a few of us that came together and wanted to do something in their honor because they were such great kids,” said Lambertus, who had known the girls’ parents Todd and Tracy for years.
“Todd’s a big golfer,” Lambertus said. “We knew that a golf tournament in this area is always a great way to raise money. Your participants get to do something that they enjoy while raising money at the same time.
“We thought a scholarship fund would be the right way to do it,” she said.
“Since 2009, we’ve given away 20 scholarships. In general, we give away two ($1,500) scholarships a year: one to a Brookings (High School) student and one to a student in South Dakota,” Lambertus said.
The scholarship is for the recipients’ first year of college.
“In 2013 and 2016, we gave away three scholarships because we only got two applicants from Brookings, so we gave both of those students a scholarship,” she said.
Most scholarships are tied to a student’s grade-point average, and while Ashley and Amanda were both good students, Lambertus said, the group wanted to honor them for being good kids.
“They’re both known to go out of their way to make sure that someone felt included and would do kind things for people just because they knew that maybe another little kid didn’t have as much as they did and so they wanted to make sure that everybody felt special,” Lambertus said.
“We know that there’s kids out there like Ashley and Amanda in every community, and we wanted to make sure they’re recognized for their good deeds and kindness,” she said.
“We decided to base our scholarship on the definition of a humanitarian,” she said.
The website aaloban.com has a downloadable application. One of the requirements is the applicant must write an essay of 500 words of how they would define a humanitarian.
“Don’t use dictionary definitions; use examples of your experience of how you changed the world,” Lambertus said.
“You don’t have to do a lot; it’s just little things. Do one thing every day to pay it forward. That’s what we kind of hoped with the scholarship is that we are awarding these kids for being good. Hopefully they’ll see that there’s a payback for it. Sometimes it’s monetary, but most of the time, it’s just that good feeling in your heart that makes you want to do it again so you can get that feeling back,” she said.
The scholarship deadline for this year has passed, and the two winners are Kayla Bruna of Brookings High School and Eric Hasart of Huron, who attends James Valley Christian School.
Lambertus declined to reveal how much money the golf tournament raises annually but said the group also donates to a number of different charities.
“We wanted to subsidize the account so the scholarship will go on forever,” she said.
“Our big contribution is to the Boys & Girls Club. We bought them a bus and then after a couple years, we gave that bus a new paint job and then after a couple of years, we overhauled the engine and put new tires on it, as well. It’s that big white bus and there’s an Ashley and Amanda heart sticker on the side of it,” she said.
The golf tournament also pays for Brookings fifth-graders to visit the Children’s Museum of South Dakota. More donations are made to the American Cancer Society, Project Joy, and Shop with a Cop.
“We recently made a contribution to the Hillcrest lunch program (Food for Thought),” Lambertus said.
“If the community has a benefit, we usually try to get a check to that organization, as well, just to pay it forward,” she added. “We have first-hand knowledge of how devastating that can be to a family, so we try to always help somebody out.”
That knowledge is what keeps them going, more than a decade later.
“I just hope that people see that you can be the good in the world,” Lambertus said.
Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]