PITTSBURG — Nearly 100 business leaders and employees are primed to play golf for a worthy cause this week.

Hosted by the Pittsburg Area Chamber Foundation, this year’s Golf Classic event will begin at 8 a.m. Friday at Crestwood Country Club. Set to feature about 23 teams of four players, this 18-hole scramble will focus on supporting ongoing leadership development opportunities through the foundation’s annual leadership programs.

Each team donated $300 to participate in the tournament.

Crawford County Youth Leadership recently celebrated its 15th year serving every school in the county.

Leadership High exists to strengthen and enhance positive leadership and team-building skills in high school freshman. The students are also challenged in building confidence and giving back to the community.

Leadership Crawford County is dedicated to developing leaders who will share with others the leadership skills they have learned and who will assume an active role in making a difference in the community, their workplace and their family structure. The annual class is made up of local business owners, leaders and employees.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all of the leaders there supporting great causes,” Josh Lowe, Director of Marketing and Communications at Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, said. “We have three fantastic leadership programs that we operate through the chamber foundation, and it’s just exciting to know that the community rallies around those programs and sees the benefit of what happens there.”

As one of the main champions of these programs, Pittsburg State University Professor Mark Johnson will help kick off the event with a speech.

“Of course, it’s a good chance to get away from the office and go play golf, but it’s also a good event to come support the kids in Crawford County,” Johnson said. “The leadership program in Crawford County is unique because unlike other programs that are self-select and a kid thinks he’s a leader because someone nominated him as the leader, every kid in Crawford County for the last 15 years has been supported and told ‘you can make a difference.’”

Johnson attributed the rise in young leaders within Crawford County to these leadership programs.

“You look at the different boards and those young people who are doing that and you realize they were a part of this process,” he said. “This has been going on for 15 years and there are kids today who are becoming young leaders in our community because somewhere along the line we planted the seed that ‘you can make a difference’ — that’s why Pittsburg is such a hopping place right now.”

 — Brandon Schmitz is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be reached at bschmitz@morningsun.net.