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Residents at Florida golf club set up GoFundMe for fired assistant golf pro who was hunger striking

FORT MYERS, Fla. – His hunger strike could also be over however the assistant golf pro who was fired final week at the Legends Golf Course and Country Club in Lee County, Florida says his protest on how he was handled lives on.

Brad Stecklein was fired May 3 from the place he held at Legends for greater than 14 years, he mentioned.

The 42-year-old golf skilled began a hunger strike that day, sitting in entrance of the club’s entrance off Fiddlesticks Boulevard with out sleeping or consuming in protest over what he says was the unjust and unwarranted firing.

After shedding 20 kilos and with the issues of his spouse and Legends residents paramount, Stecklein pulled again on the extra extreme portion of his protest.

“They didn’t want me to have a heart attack. They said there was a different way to do this,” he mentioned Sunday morning, decked out within the flamboyant golf apparel he’s recognized for. “This isn’t going to end. I have a chance to make a difference.”

Stecklein additionally discovered himself being aided by residents and others with the creation of a fund to assist him and his household.

A resident set up a GoFundMe Friday for Stecklein and by Sunday morning greater than $5,600 had been collected.

“Florida being an ‘at-will’ state means a worker can generally be fired without cause or notice,” the preamble to the GoFundMe mentioned. “While that may be legal, we, as members of this community, feel that does not represent the heart of who we, the owners are.”

Brad Stecklein, the previous assistant golf pro at Legends Golf & Country Club, is on a hunger strike exterior the club on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, after being let go on Monday after working there for greater than 14 years. Hundreds of members have stopped by to present him water and supply help to him. (Amanda Inscore/The News Press)

The GoFundMe mentioned Stecklein had executed extra than simply function assistant golf pro.

“He has served us, become part of our Legends family, and is part of so many of our fondest memories made here. Walking into the Pro Shop seeing Brad after being gone for months, his great big smile and ‘welcome back’ always made me know I had just come home,” Hal Schichtel, the creator of the funding web page, mentioned. “We all have our own favorite memories to share, and woven through each one is the laughter, professionalism, and his commitment to excellence in serving each of us.”

Stecklein mentioned he hopes to by no means have to the touch that GoFundMe cash.

“For someone to do that is a sign of how much they care,” he mentioned. “It is amazing someone would do that on my behalf.”

Stecklein mentioned he has additionally acquired phrases of help through emails and texts from around the globe, particularly after his story was picked up by Golfweek.

“The messages never stop pouring in,” he mentioned. “Around 250 members and a couple professional athletes said they would pray for me.”

Legends Golf & Country Club member Dr. John Pawlowicz, proper, stops to supply help to Brad Stecklein on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. Until Monday afternoon, Stecklein was the assistant golf pro at the club. He says he was let go with out warning or severance. “He’s a great guy. I think the world of him,” mentioned Pawlowicz.

Stecklein mentioned he was let go Monday and never given a purpose.

“In 14 years I’ve never been written up,” he mentioned.

Legends basic supervisor and chief working officer Ranae Frazier mentioned she had no concept why Stecklein was staging his protest exterior the property and declined to make a press release. She mentioned solely, “Nobody is fired without cause.”

Chad Perkins, the golf pro at Legends since December, couldn’t be reached for remark and didn’t reply to requests for a remark.

Legends grasp board president Bill Hoffman did ship out a letter May 5 to residents that was shared with The News-Press.

Hoffman mentioned it was club coverage to not remark publicly on the self-discipline or termination of a particular worker.

“However,” Hoffman continued, “the club would not terminate an employee without good cause.”

He concluded the letter saying the club wouldn’t hesitate to contain their attorneys if needed.

And resident Lori Schichtel mentioned she despatched the next letter to Legends administration: “As residents, we are calling on you, along with our Board/Management Team, to answer to those of us that have hired you. The way this has been handled can only negatively impact homeowners and employee morale along with our ability to draw professionals to ever seek work here.”

Residents and golfers at the club have been stopping at Stecklein’s protest web site providing phrases of encouragement, hugs and commiseration.

One couple stopped Sunday morning and chatted with Stecklein, saying they’d put cash within the GoFundMe.

“I hope to give that back to you,” he advised the couple. “Thank you, but I hope to not to have to use it.”

Stecklein mentioned {that a} day or so after he was fired Legends did supply him three weeks of severance at an hourly fee however he declined.

“This isn’t about money now,” he mentioned. “How is it acceptable for someone to be fired after 14 years without being written up and no exit interview?”

The Dubuque, Iowa, native switched from a journalism profession after graduating from Iowa State University and dealing in radio for a number of years to golf pro greater than 16 years in the past. He mentioned his protest has taken on new focus Florida’s employment guidelines.

“I voted for Governor DeSantis,” he mentioned. “I think he did a wonderful job with COVID.” However, Stecklein mentioned he would relish an opportunity to bend the governor’s ear on at-will work rights.

“It’s tough,” he mentioned about getting that likelihood. “But that doesn’t mean things can’t be talked about.”

Connect with breaking information reporter Michael Braun: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook), @MichaelBraunNP (Twitter) or [email protected]

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