Getting To The Bottom Of Podiatrist's Golf Tournament

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) -- State investigators are coming to Knoxville next week to get answers about a questionable charity fundraiser we told you about on Wednesday.

Off-camera, we talked to several friends and colleagues of the podiatrist behind the Footwedge golf outing.

They claim it must be a misunderstanding or sloppy paperwork, but the doctor's still not talking.

"We know that we're doing the right thing and we want the public to know we're doing the right thing," said Freddi Birdwell of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee.

Birdwell's charity wants it clear, neither cash nor a check will make all things right with the Columbus Home for Boys.

They want to get to the bottom of the truth.

"Was the tournament been held as it seems to have been and where has the money gone," Birdwell said.

A club spokesman confirms, that the Lenoir City golf course did indeed host Footwedge's Charity Tournament September 30th, as it has the past nine years.

Each year, Footwedge's check has cleared.

Also, As in years past, the Knoxville Elks Lodge hosted Footwedge's Pre-Tournament Gala.

According to the manager, that rent check cleared and the gala's chairman says the event itself raised about $9,600.

"If in fact they were misleading donors about where the proceeds of the tournament would go, that would be of great concern
to me," said Todd Kelly from the Division of Charitable Solicitation and Gaming which falls under the Tennessee Secretary of State's Office. "If I find there are violations of the Tennessee Charitable Solicitations Act, the Division is empowered to assess civil penalties against the organizers."

"We just want to make sure that potential donors and sponsors are not deceived," Birdwell said.

Doctor Paul Rivard, has offered no explanations beyond his handwritten note three weeks ago admitting the Footwedge
tournament website was quote "non-factual, in claiming to have given Catholic Charities $20,000 this year and promising to review how it happened.

"It didn't sound like Footwedge and the history we had with Footwedge," Birdwell said.

Footwedge had a 16 year history, of growing donations, until a $15,000 check bounced in fiscal year 2004 and 2005.

Catholic Charities considered two checks last year, as make goods on that, but now they are unsure.

"I guess it would be foolish not to go back and carefully look at what has come in the past and so forth," Birdwell said. "It would probably be irresponsible of us not to look carefully at that.

Dr. Rivard had a board member for Columbus Home, until Catholic Charities re-organized.

He's still listed as president of Tennessee's Podiatric Medical Association.

Dr. Rivard did not returned repeated phone calls, seeking his side of the story.


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