• Ex-Wildcat trying to help team chaplain

  • When Jordan Whitworth was diagnosed with seizures during his senior year at Blue Springs High School, the three-sport standout thought his world had come to an end.

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  • When Jordan Whitworth was diagnosed with seizures during his senior year at Blue Springs High School, the three-sport standout thought his world had come to an end.
    Doctors didn't want him playing any sports, he was not allowed to drive and the dreams he had as a senior soon became more of a nightmare.
    That's when Joey Butler entered his life.
    “My parents and friends helped me through that time,” said Whitworth, a 2007 Blue Springs graduate who is now a chemist at Land O’Lakes in St. Joseph, Mo. “But Joey really got me through it. He's one of the most inspirational people in my life. He's the most inspirational person in the lives of a lot of people.”
    Butler, 50, the pastor at Gateway Church who has since been diagnosed with stage 4 renal cell cancer, worked with the Blue Springs football team for many years and played a role in so many lives that when Whitworth found out his longtime friend and counsel suffered from terminal cancer, he wanted to do something to give back.
    “I texted my brothers (who all played football at Blue Springs) and my Uncle Pat (Whitworth, an optometrist in Independence) and asked them about a golf tournament,” said Whitworth, who makes the drive from St. Joseph to Independence for all the board meetings. “They thought it was a good idea, and now, it's going to happen.”
    The Top Button golf tournament – modeled after a Butler saying, “Get the top button right and everything lines up” – will take place July 29 at the Blue Springs Country Club. Registration, driving range and putting green times begin at 7:30 a.m., with shotgun starts in A, B and C flights beginning at 8:30 a.m. The cost is $75 per golfer.
    Lunch will be served, there will be a silent auction and a $20 raffle for the chance to win a free week in a three-bedroom townhouse in Destin or Panama City Beach, Fla.
    “We have some amazing sponsors – businesses and groups who have donated between $2,000 and $4,000, but we need golfers,” Whitworth said. “It's cool that (former Blue Springs football coach and activities director) Tim Crone, (football coach) Kelly Donohoe, (activities director) Frank Wheeler and (principal) Dave Adams are going to play on a team. They all know what Joey means to Blue Springs.”
    So does Blue Springs businessman and assistant wrestling coach Jay Greco, who is part of the tournament planning committee.
    “Now, we all know Joey, and he's already told us he's not taking any money,” Greco said, grinning. “Well, it may take some arm wrestling, but the money is going to his family. Now, we can't tell him what to do with it once they get it, but they're getting all the profit from the tournament.
    Page 2 of 2 - “He has helped so many people over the years. He's always been the giver, now, it's time for him to be the receiver. And if we have to beat him up a little bit to do it, we will. Seriously, he has helped develop so many wonderful leaders in our community and now it's time for us to give a little back to him and his family.”
    Inside the flyer that provides information on the tournament, Whitworth writes: “Joey Butler has made a huge impact on the community of Blue Springs. He has been such a positive role model for the young men around him. He cares deeply for everyone around him and continues to exemplify what a man of God should look like.
    “Joey Butler is a true servant of God. We would like to celebrate this.”
    Those words come from the heart.
    “We're not doing this so much as to raise money for Joey's family as we are to get Joey the recognition he deserves,” Whitworth said. “The money is just a bonus. Everyone needs to know what type of a wonderful and caring person Joey Butler is.”
    For information on sponsorships or any aspect of the tournament, call 816-590-1262.
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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