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Ed Strege: The Life Behind the Little Eddie Big Cup

The task of penning a personality like Ed Strege’s is daunting.

How can justice be done to a colorful and three-dimensional character in lines of black and white on a flat computer screen? I’m going to try, because knowing Ed is knowing why a day spent in Door County with friends on fairways, followed by a smorgasbord of food and drink at a local watering hole is a picture perfect tribute.

Born and raised in Egg Harbor, Ed was a father, son, husband and brother. I was lucky enough to call him a friend. His aura was powerful: charisma intoxicating, humor uplifting, spirit infectious. Ed’s happy antics filled the room – constant reminders to not sweat the small stuff, to love hard and to laugh a lot. If you didn’t know him, you wanted to – because having Ed around made everything better. “Always a pleasure, never a chore,” he used to say. Well, right back at him.

Eddie Strege

Ed Strege. Submitted photo.

His light may be extinguished, but a spirit like his doesn’t die. “Ed was too big a person to forget,” explained Ivan Bridenhagen, crediting Ed’s short stature and big personality as the impetus for the Little Eddie Big Cup memorial golf tournament.

The Big Cup was an idea Bridenhagen and James Larsen, Ed’s friends and golfing buddies, came up with shortly after Ed’s death in March 2014. Finding peace and purpose in planning, a Big Cup committee made up of Ed’s classmates, coworkers and friends assembled. With everyone passionate about celebrating Ed’s legacy of charismatic compassion, an annual golf outing was born.

Following in the footsteps of the Johnny G. Golf Scramble, the first annual Little Eddie Big Cup took place at Peninsula State Park Golf Course on Oct. 5, 2014. The format was a four-person scramble, welcoming 36 foursomes and encouraging good times, laughter and a few libations. Following play, participants, volunteers and the public gathered at Husby’s Food & Spirits for lunch and awards. “Ed made everything fun, and the first annual event was that. And a great fundraiser,” said Bridenhagen.

The inaugural Big Cup, coupled with the Little Eddie Little Cup which took place at Red Putter Mini Golf the evening before, raised $16,000 for the Ed Strege Family Memorial Fund. Recognizing an immediate need, the fund was set up by the Big Cup committee to benefit Megan and Oliver Strege, Ed’s widow and one-year-old son. This year, the committee has expanded their mission by creating the Mental Health Awareness Fund, held and administered by the Door County Community Foundation (DCCF). The fund’s purpose is to promote mental health awareness in Door County and is expected to sponsor events such as a speaker series or workshops.

“We want to establish our mission long term. Something in Ed’s name that will go toward a greater good locally. Partnering with the DCCF perfectly compliments our vision,” explained Kayla Larsen, Big Cup committee member. The committee hopes to exceed their goal of raising $15,000 in 2015, with proceeds benefitting both funds.

“It’s amazing how Ed’s friends stepped up to benefit our family and the community. We are forever grateful,” said Bernie Strege, Ed’s mother, who attended the first annual event along with Ed’s dad, sisters, wife and son. “It was an honor to attend such a wonderful event that captured the spirit of who Ed was.”

This year’s Little Eddie Big Cup takes place Sunday, Sept. 27. Golfers will fill the fairways at Peninsula State Park Golf Course to honor the memory of Eddie. Lunch and awards will follow at Alexander’s. Email [email protected] for a registration form or visit the Facebook page for more information about the 2015 Big and Little Cups.

Feedback regarding the goals and vision of the tournament is appreciated and welcomed by the Big Cup committee. Send any ideas or information to [email protected] To get involved, call Ivan Bridenhagen at 920.370.7934.

Mettie Spiess Introduces Inspire Hope Blog

Turning a devastating loss into an opportunity to help others was important to me and the founders of the Little Eddie Big Cup.

Losing two brothers to suicide and personally battling depression and anxiety taught me in the absence of hope suffering prevails and loved ones leave the world too soon. I started the Inspire Hope Blog when I realized shedding light on darkness, providing support and spreading hope saves lives!

Inspire Hope Blog empowers readers with the tools and support needed to heal emotionally, live authentically and thrive physically. When faced with a tragedy it is possible to overcome heartache and achieve a level of growth that allows you to thrive beyond it/the event. Regardless of your starting point, health and happiness are possible.

The truth is, after a significant loss you will never be the same. The good news is you can be better. Blow the lid off depression and spread hope by visiting InspireHopeBlog.com.

If all you see is darkness with no way out, three brave words can save you. Call 1.800.273.TALK (8255) and simply say “I need help.”

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