Hitting the Links for a Friend

by Kara Gibbs '96

Nothing brings a group of men together like a good game of golf. That’s the case for three Cedarville alums who have been playing 18 holes together every August for more than 14 years. Whatever else is going on in their lives, they still find time for what they like to call “Hacker’s Cup.”

Then, in 2007, one of their friends and players, Stefan Tarapchak ’92, was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic colon cancer, and the event took on a whole new meaning. When you combine a love for a friend with a love for golf, good things start to happen.

Todd Roberts and Jim Ringer, also 1992 grads, met Tarapchak while students at Cedarville. Ringer and Tarapchak were both accounting majors and, after college, moved to the Columbus, Ohio, area and started attending the same church. Roberts and Tarapchak took many business classes together and were in Delta Omega Epsilon.

“It’s been a blessing,” Roberts says, “to watch how each man’s life has developed through the years, with marriage, kids, careers, etc.” Yet they still connected on the phone each spring to start planning the next golf trip. This year, it was a very easy decision to play in Columbus and do something for Tarapchak.

After his diagnosis, Tarapchak had gone through six rounds of chemo from August to October 2007. It didn’t work. On October 26, 2007, he underwent major surgery to have some of his colon removed — including the omentum and other cancer nodules. The surgery was very successful with the removal of about 90 percent of the cancer. Since then, Tarapchak has undergone more chemo and a second surgery and began his third round of chemo treatments this past August.

The three friends decided to hold a golf outing to raise money and awareness for Tarapchak’s continued medical needs. First, they compiled a list of people that Tarapchak wanted to be sure would attend the event. From there, they mailed, passed out, and e-mailed a flier that advertised what was now called the Refuse to Lose Invitational. The term was coined by Tarapchak to embody his journey of battling cancer and is now the theme for his cancer campaign.

“Stef has touched so many lives,” says Roberts. “We didn’t have to market that hard to get a full outing.”
In attendance were 113 golfers — family and friends from church, work, and Cedarville — and 24 of those were Cedarville alums. The outing included range balls, greens fees, a cart, lunch, and prizes, with the proceeds going to the Tarapchaks. They also had hole sponsors, raffles, and silent auction items. “I think they were overwhelmed by the amount of support,” Ringer says. “The proceeds were given to the family to use however they desired,”

Tarapchak was unable to play the day of the tournament, but he did sit at a par three hole and was the honorary fifth putter for each team that passed through.

In his own words, “I was thankful for the support, and I am sure everyone had a great time.”

Most recently, Tarapchak has been told by his cancer surgeon that he has a very large malignant mass in his abdomen.