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DES MOINES, Iowa — Volunteers are the heart of the Principal Charity Classic.

The annual Champions Tour event has been hosted by several central Iowa golf courses since its founding nearly two decades ago; since 2013 Wakonda Club has hosted the event.

Regardless of the change in venues, 40 volunteers have never missed the tournament.

“This year we are recognizing those volunteers,” Principal Financial CEO Dan Houston said.

One of those volunteers has become the voice professional golfers never forget.

“Cleo Brown has been our starter on the first tee and really the face of the tournament to start the event,” Houston said.

Brown’s involvement has evolved into a family affair with sons Jim and Jon joining him to help announce golfers on the first and tenth hole.

“Each year I tell myself, maybe I’ll do one more year,” Brown said. “And every year they keep asking me to come back, so here I am.”

Brown and fellow dedicated volunteers have seen the charitable effort behind the tournament explode.

Since Principal became the presenting sponsor in 2007, over $25.5 million has been raised for local children’s charities.

“We have four tournament partners,” Jo Christine Miles, director of the Principal Foundation said. “Blank Children’s Hospital, Mercy One, United Way of Central Iowa and Variety the Children’s Charity.”

Jo Christine Miles describes custom designed socks for sale at the 2023 PCC with all proceeds going directly to charity.

The past two years have demonstrated the success of the event and strength of sponsor commitments, breaking record totals in 2021 with over $7 million and 2022 with over $8 million, but Houston prefers to hi-light 2020.

“In June of 2020 there was no golf and people who had already committed to this tournament said they had already stroked their checks and we had them. Meanwhile we were in the midst of a global pandemic and we said do you want your money back, do you want to roll it to next year or just apply it for 2020? Ninety-seven percent of the dollars stayed intact,” Houston said.

They hope to build on momentum this year.

“For me, as far as raising money for children’s charities, sky’s the limit,” Houston said.

The Principal Charity Classic runs June 2-4 at Wakonda Club with gates opening at 8:30 a.m. each day.

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