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Fired up to give back to the community

May 23, 2004

Deirdre Newman

When 4-year-old Leilani Gutierrez was in a devastating car accident

that left her a quadriplegic, the Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. made

her home handicapped accessible, with help from Home Depot.

On other occasions, the group has written checks to victims of

personal tragedies, such as a house fire, to give them a little

breathing room.

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On Monday, the association will host its fourth annual Charity

Golf Tournament at the Costa Mesa Country Club, which funds the

firefighters charitable acts. The event will hopefully raise $15,000,

Tournament Director Greg LaFave said.

"The whole idea of raising money is so throughout the year we can

continue to offer the services we do, and on a grass-roots level,"

LaFave said. "We're not looking for accolades."

On the 17th hole -- the longest par-3 hole on the course,

measuring 188 yards -- a 2004 Chevy Monte Carlo is the prize for

anyone who can shoot a hole-in-one.

The banquet after the tournament is a Hawaiian luau with live jazz

music, a bar and a silent auction. Some of the auction items are a

surfboard that LaFave made, cruises to Mexico and the Bahamas and

free weekend stays at local hotels.

Some of the funds from the annual golf tournament are also used

are for $500 scholarships for four graduating seniors -- two from

Estancia High School and two from Costa Mesa High School. The

scholarships are an effort to give deserving students the nudge they

need to make the right choices, LaFave said.

"I want to get a lot of people who are on the fence and just give

them a little shove," LaFave said. "[Like someone who's] either going

to be a car thief or a car mechanic. I want to find the guy I can

give a shove to and he's going to end up being a contributor."

C.J. Segerstrom & Sons has generously donated to the firefighters'

association over the years, LaFave said.

"Even though they're very wealthy and successful, I think on a

very community-based level, they really want to give back to the

community and do things that really count," LaFave said.

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