What is it? Well, a donation certainly helps. A BIG donation. And the more you donate, the more it seems that you get back in return.
Thorpe is playing this weekend in search of his third victory in a row at Brunos Memorial in Birmingham, Ala. And some weird things have happened recently. The weirdest of all, some might say, was Thorpe giving such a big gift to his church just outside Orlando.
'On Easter Sunday, Thorpe began, I made a commitment to my church to donate $250,000 toward a building fund for the youth ministry. Seems like since I made that commitment, God has just blessed me with some big checks. Ive played three weeks, and Ive pocketed pretty close to $625-700,000.
Ill tell you what, people say that doesnt have anything to do with it. I dont know ' that could have a lot to do with it.
At the time all this started happening, he had played six tournaments on the Champions Tour. And he didnt have a single finish inside the top 10. He had just played so-so, a tie for 22 in one event, a T25 in another, finally a T49 in his last, the Toshiba Senior Classic March 20.
But he took a month off, and made the financial commitment while at church on Easter. And in three starts since then, he has finished fifth and won $123,000, before breaking out to the two back-to-back victories ' one worth $247,500, the other $225,000.
Id never been deeply involved with church, said Thorpe. But my wife started going, and I started going when I was in town. The church started a building fund. My agent and business partner, Mike Lewis, looked at me and said, Look here, why dont you and I start the campaign off, lets donate half a million dollars over the next three years? I said, Lets do it.
What happened was, the next three weeks I pocketed a lot of money. I said to Mike, Ill tell you what Im going to do ' I just made a check for $247,500 (for the win at the FedEx Kinkos). Im going to add another $2,500 to that and thatll make it $250,000. Thatll kind of get the campaign rolling.
'I think since Ive done that, the building campaign has raised about $1 million.
Thorpe, 56, has made a reputation on the Champions Tour as a big-league horse racing aficionado and a perennial casino patron. But maybe those days are behind him.
Athletes today, we make enough money where we can give a hundred or two (thousand) and make things a lot better. If someone else does the same thing in their community, before long youve made a real positive impact.
I personally feel that since I have devoted my life, tried to turn my life around, Ive become a much more positive person, Ive become much more involved with my community and church and tried to do things to help others. I think when I was a young guy, I really didnt know these things.
Maybe this is the way he wants to be remembered now, as a soft-hearted fella who donated his entire winning purse to the church, instead of the guy who couldnt pass up the chance to play a few dollars on games of chance at a casino.
This is the way I want to go out, said Thorpe. I feel Ive gone to enough race tracks, hit enough casinos, bet enough on the horses, chasing dogs around the corners. Now is the time in my life - Im reaching the age where Im kind of getting to the twilight side of my life. You step back and you view your life and you think, God, did I really do that? What did I do good back there?
And when you cant think of nothing that you did that was good, maybe its time to make a move.
Thorpe goes back to his childhood home of Roxborough, N.C., every now and then, and hes bothered a little by what he sees. The biggest building in town is ' the jailhouse. And that makes him sad.
To me, thats a bad image, man. I dont want to see that.
Thorpe has been in this position twice before, having won two tournaments in a row and going for a third. His best finish was a tie for third in 2000. Bringing this thought to reality (of winning three in a row) is very, very difficult, he cautioned. These guys are not going to just LET you win.
But this is HIS time, when the days get hot and humid. And to boot, now he thinks he has the secret ' give something back.
Basically what I did three years ago was to donate 10 percent of everything I made to my ministry. I havent missed it, it hasnt hurt me one bit.
And when it comes time to walk away (from the game), Ill gladly walk away. But I want to help young people, to let them know that drugs and drinking and that sort of thing is the wrong thing to do in your life,