When NFL punter Greg Montgomery died by suicide in August 2020, his family decided they would become a force to improve mental health services in Southwest Florida and beyond. They created The Gregory H. Montgomery Jr. Foundation for Ultimate Growth and will hold its first major fundraiser Fore Love & Wellness on April 29-30 at the Vineyards Country Club in Naples.
“It was either sit in the corner and suck my thumb, or plow forward. With tremendous love and support from my amazing dad, Greg Sr. and awesome brother, Steve Montgomery…we are doing just that…plowing forward,” says Margot Moran, Greg’s sister, who is organizing the fundraiser.
Fore Love & Wellness, a play on the golf and tennis tournaments that anchor the event, includes a silent auction that’s live now online and culminates with a live reception, in person and online. The emcee is fellow NFL punter Sean Landeta, a friend of Greg Montgomery and a famed player who logged 22 seasons in the league.
The auction includes rare sports memorabilia and a VIP Alabama Football Experience that comes with four tickets, four pregame sideline passes and lunch with one of the most famous coaches in football, Nick Saban, head football coach for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Nonsports items include a getaway to Gasparilla Inn & Club on Boca Grande and another to The Breakers on Palm Beach.
The kick-off reception and silent auction finale take place 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 29, online and in person at the Vineyards. The golf tournament takes place 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, April 30 with a boxed lunch at the ninth hole. The round robin tennis, which also includes lunch, takes place 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The awards wrap-up is at 2 p.m.
Tickets are available at ultimategrowthfoundation.org:
- Kick-off Reception: $100
- Ultimate Golf Registration: $250
- Ultimate 19th Hole Contest: $25
- Ultimate Tennis Registration: $50
All funds raised support mental wellness efforts and suicide prevention.
To most people, Greg appeared to be living the American dream. In college, he played for Michigan State University and set the school’s record for longest punt at 86 yards. He was drafted into the NFL by the Houston Oilers in 1988 and went on to play for the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Ravens, collecting numerous achievements and recognitions along the way. In 1997, Greg was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Greg talked about his diagnosis publicly in an attempt to stop the stigma.
“Greg was very brave and awesome about using his platform as an NFL player,” Moran said.
While there’s a little more conversation today than in the late 1990s, she continued, it’s not enough, and more work needs to be done. With the foundation, Moran hopes to build programs and give much needed support in schools and communities here in Southwest Florida and beyond.
“This is a crisis,” Moran said. “This is no joke.”
The foundation’s goal is to improve education, programs and funding for mental health. Its motto: He lives through lives saved.
Event sponsors include Cullen Capital Management, Metrics Global, JCT Foundation, Edison Innovation Foundation, Preferred Properties Real Estate, Specialty Solutions, Piper Sandler, Danny Keegan and Brenda and Frank Mergenthaler.
For more information about the Fore Love & Wellness fundraiser and auction, become a sponsor or donor, visit ultimategrowthfoundation.org. If you know someone in crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or text HELLO to 741741.