A Charlotte native, Pat began his journey around the age of 25, when he crossed South Carolina and a few other states off the list. But as he talked with one of his friends about the challenge, he started to feel like something was missing from it.
“I felt like there was a way to help other people, however big or small it might be. I knew there was more that I could do to put a true purpose behind it,” he said.
So, Pat’s challenge continued with the goal of raising $1,000 and spreading awareness about Samaritan’s Feet while playing golf in all 50 U.S. states. He began strategically planning out three- to four-day cross-country trips, often going to the corners of states so that multiple courses could be played within that timeframe.
“I tried to plan my travel as efficient as I could. When I started I had just 5 states under my belt, meaning I had five years to play in nine states per year. So, when I traveled to a state, I was usually doing at least two or three at a time by ducking into the corner of one state, then heading into the corner of another,” said Bellucci. “When the pandemic hit, I was sitting at just 24 states complete. Losing a full year of travel in 2020 meant that in the last two years of the challenge I’d need to cover 26 states, which ended up being one of the most challenging parts of the whole experience.”
While Pat played, he would often talk to the course staff or players he was paired with to let them know about his challenge, while also taking videos and posting on social media. He wanted others to understand the impact of the work of Samaritan’s Feet. Pat understood that impact because of an experience he had serving at a shoe distribution in Washington, D.C.
In 2018, Pat was living in the D.C. area and was able to connect with Samaritan’s Feet as they served at Payne Elementary School with the 2017 WNBA Champions, the Minnesota Lynx.
“It was really cool when I got to serve at that event and see the impact that it makes. It’s such an obvious tangible impact, especially to kids at that school where nearly 100% of the students are below the poverty line and haven’t had a new pair of shoes in years and years, if at all. It was priceless to see their reactions to the shoes,” he said.
That experience stuck with Pat as he continued his golfing challenge, sometimes playing great, and other times, not doing his best. “I’ve had my fair share of both good and bad days on the course during this journey, and I had plenty of time while traveling to think about those bad shots or disappointing rounds. But, the impact of Samaritan’s Feet was always that wind in my sails when I needed it, because I knew that with every state I crossed off my list, people in need of new shoes were benefitting from my efforts,” he said.
Pat played some difficult courses, and beautiful ones, all while knowing he was helping others while playing. He commented on an unexpectedly beautiful course in Killington, Vermont, where the morning fog in the mountains created an unforgettable view. But, he claims the most special state was the last one he played: Hawaii. “We played the Kapalua Plantation Course on the day before my 30th birthday and it was such a beautiful place to play. I’ll always look back on that round of golf and say ‘that was a really special way to finish the journey,’” said Bellucci.
Pat ended up exceeding his goal by raising nearly $3,000. He hopes through his efforts, others can be inspired to use their hobbies to raise awareness for the organization. “Put something down in writing that’s going to push you to take your first step towards your goal, whatever it might be. Once you speak your goal into existence, that will set it into motion. Plus, social media is such a creative and open world that it’s never been easier for people who want a way to pair their personal passion to a philanthropic effort” he said.
Do you have a hobby or pastime that you could use to help spread the word about Samaritan’s Feet? With a goal of serving its 10 millionth recipient in 2023, everyone’s efforts will help us get one step closer to that goal!