Seventh Annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic Will Help FFTP Build Much-Needed Classrooms for Students in Jamaica
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 17, 2023) Palm Beach County resident Rafe Cochran was inspired in the third grade to raise money to help Food For The Poor (FFTP) build homes in Haiti, taking the first step in using his passion for golf to help others. Today, just weeks before he graduates from high school, the 18-year-old remains on the path of philanthropy as he prepares to host the Seventh Annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic on Monday, May 1.
Proceeds from the event, which will be at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, will provide classrooms for a school in Jamaica through his work with FFTP. Eleven foursomes already have registered, and many more are expected.
Although he had no way of being certain that his involvement with FFTP would continue for so long, Rafe said he’s built a strong bond with the charity and its staff.
“It’s kind of like family,” he said. “I’ve become very, very close to a lot of people at Food For The Poor over the years and it’s always been very seamless. It’s a faith-based organization, which I love, and I know exactly where the money is going.”
Rafe began playing golf when he was 6. Three years later, after an FFTP representative visited his class, he channeled his passion for golf into becoming one of FFTP’s youngest supporters by raising money to build two homes for families in Ganthier, Haiti. He did it by asking his generous supporters to pledge money for shots he made at a golf tournament – $100 for pars, $200 for birdies and $250 for eagles.
Since hosting the first Rafe Cochran Golf Classic in 2016, it’s been an annual event, pausing only in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. By age 14, Rafe had raised money to build 10 homes in Haiti, and later to build or expand three schools in Jamaica. Last year, he supported the expansion of McGrath High School in Treadways, Jamaica.
“I’m very religious and I believe everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I think God put me on this earth to help these people and, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing. I chose education because I believe that it would have the greatest impact on future generations.”
Rafe’s parents, Jay and Diahann Cochran, are proud of their son for his accomplishments as a student, a golfer and for his work with FFTP.
“We always taught Rafe to be his own person – to be a leader, stick to his beliefs with compassion and to speak to his beliefs with conviction,” Diahann Cochran said. “I think that he is that person. When he has something in his head and he wants to do it, and it’s something really positive, he just goes for it.”
This year, Rafe is supporting Innswood High School, located on the Innswood estate in St. Catherine Parish, Jamaica. Originally built to accommodate 1,200 students, the school has an enrollment of 1,700, forcing officials to convert nonteaching areas into classrooms wherever they can find space.
Most students come from volatile, low-income communities and are much more likely to drop out of school, with more than a quarter of them reading below grade level. The school also is a haven for students who are forced to leave other schools due to academic, social or behavioral challenges, as well as students with physical impairments.
“Innswood High School is a safety net for students who are on the fringe, and this project offers them a greater opportunity to turn their lives around,” FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said. “The fact that Rafe wants to give students easier, more comfortable access to education is an example of his wisdom and his desire to impact future generations. We are so grateful that he decided at such a young age to partner with Food For The Poor to help us lift families out of poverty and put them on a path to sustainability and success.”
Rafe also is charting his own path to success, using his standing as an honors student at Oxbridge High School in West Palm Beach and his golfing expertise to propel him forward. After graduation, he’ll spend a gap year improving his game, competing in amateur golf tournaments and taking online courses before attending college.
“I want to practice and prepare myself for trying to achieve my goal to become a PGA Tour player,” he said. “I think it will be a good opportunity to get my game to where I want it to be before going into college.”
He’s also planning to continue his relationship with FFTP well beyond high school and college – whether it’s through his charity golf classic or another project – and he’s going to do his best to involve his peers in the process whenever he can.
“It’s super important to involve kids my age,” he said. “We should be making an impact because we’re the next generation, and we’re the ones who are going to be able to push this forward.”
In addition to the excitement of the game, the tournament will include a variety of raffle items, with proceeds going toward the project. To learn more about the tournament and sponsorship opportunities, please contact the FFTP Community Engagement Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-404-4248. Click here to make a donation in support of the project or text RAFE to 51555.
Event Sponsors: Bessemer Trust; Susan Phipps Cochran; and Ron and Dolores Romeo; Food & Beverage Sponsor: Braman Motorcars; Hole & Tee Sponsors: Burns & Severson, P.A.; Leslie Schram; Lisa & Michael Scotto; and El Cid Fitness.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.