By Steve Mosco
Raymond Finerty has long dreamed about visiting the sacred links of the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia for the Masters tournament.
And after three years battling cancer, the terminally ill 59-year-old Maspeth resident is about to wake up in a world where that dream is a reality.
The Dream Foundation, the first and largest national wish-granting organization for adults and their families suffering life-threatening illnesses, is fulfilling Finerty’s final wish to visit the famous golf club in April and attend the decisive round of the Masters, one of the four major championships in professional golf.
“We are honored to serve Raymond’s dream, especially since he’s waited his whole life to visit Augusta National,” said Kelly Sweda, communications manager with Dream Foundation, which sent several officials to meet Finerty and his wife Mary at their Maspeth home Tuesday. “He and his son will have an unforgettable time away from the realities of life with terminal cancer.”
Finerty plans to bring his son Keith with him on the journey to Augusta.
Gaining entry to the prestigious event is an expensive undertaking. Even after airline seats and hotel rooms are booked, golf fanatics still have to shell out hundreds — sometimes thousands — of dollars to see the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy compete on the course.
It is a place Finerty never thought he would see in person.
“This is quite a bit more than I was expecting,” the quiet Finerty said through a thick Irish brogue. “For golf fans it’s like going to Mecca.”
With a prognosis of fewer than six months to live due to advanced stage mesothelioma, Finerty is currently on hiatus from treatment while he supports his wife who is also battling cancer.
“We are good, we are strong and we are going to keep going,” said Finerty’s unshakable wife Mary. “There are obstacles in everyone’s life. And there is nothing you can do but face them.”
An avid golfer himself, Finerty said his best game ever was when he shot a 77 at the Douglaston Golf Course. He does not count on having the opportunity to play a round at Augusta, but he certainly would not turn down the chance if it came up.
The Finertys’ children, Keith, Sheila and Amy, all learned golf from their father after they left Westmeath, Ireland, for America close to 30 years ago. And it was his children, all adults today, who fought to fulfill their father’s final wish.
“I’m so glad he will be out there on the course,” Mary said. “It will be great for him and great for everybody.”
Finerty’s dream would not have been possible without the efforts of the Shivas Irons Society, which provides opportunities for community, discovery and transformation through golf.
Through a member, the society connected with a U.S. Golf Association official — also an Augusta National member — who graciously donated two tickets to the April 14 tournament final.
“The society and its officers, directors and members are all very pleased to partner with Dream Foundation in the realization of Raymond’s dream,” said Bryan Golden, Shivas Irons Society executive director. “We know that at this time of crisis in Raymond’s life, he will benefit from the sense of fulfillment that being present for the final round of this most prestigious golf tournament will bring.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.