2023 Volunteer of Year: Lew Saphar

2023 Volunteer of the Year Lew Saphar Donates His Time…and His Blood

By: Rob Goodman

Volunteers vary, but one thing is consistent among all volunteers of the year: each is deeply committed to the Wyndham Championship. The 2023 Volunteer of the Year, Lew Saphar, is no exception, but what sets this volunteer of the year apart is his long-term commitment to blood-platelet donation.

Saphar was named 2023 Volunteer of the Year immediately following last year’s tournament, and he was honored on the 18th green during the presentation of the Sam Snead Cup to 2023 champion Lucas Glover.

“Though it’s probably a cliche, it is such an honor,” Saphar said. “There are so many great volunteers, and being singled out seems surreal. Standing on the 18th green during the trophy presentation was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Saphar moved to Winston-Salem from Tallahassee, Fla., in 1985 to start a job at Wells Fargo, then Wachovia. He worked there for 36 years, but now that he’s enjoying retirement, Saphar serves his community doing the things he loves, and that’s a long list. He sings with the Winston-Salem Symphony Chorus and serves on the board of the Winston-Salem Symphony. He’s a member of the Lutheran Church of the Epiphany in Winston-Salem where he chairs the worship committee and the management committee; he also sings and plays handbells in the church choir. In addition to his tasks at the church, Saphar enjoys biking, hiking or working on his golf game.

But most important of everything he does is helping people he’s never met by donating blood. “The thing I am most proud of is I’m a frequent Platelet donor,” Saphar said. “I definitely would like to encourage everyone who is capable to do so at their local Red Cross.

“I started out as a whole blood donor while in college at Florida State University and continued donating whole blood after I moved to Winston-Salem. About 25 years ago, I was asked at a blood drive to consider donating platelets as my blood type is A positive, which is a good blood type for platelet donors.

“Over the time I’ve been donating, I’ve made over 420 donations, donated 80 gallons of blood products and averaged 21 donations a year. Last year, I achieved a personal best of 24 donations in a calendar year. It is very rewarding to be able to help cancer patients, who are the primary recipients of platelets.”

After volunteering at the PGA TOUR Champions Vantage Championship/RJR Championship at Tanglewood Park in the 1990s and early 2000s, Saphar, 65, joined the Wyndham Championship volunteer team three years ago and quickly made an impact. He worked as a standard bearer carrying the sign showing the current score for each golfer in his group in 2021 and ’22 before becoming a walking scorer last year. He actually did both during the 2023 tournament. Saphar made a lot of memories in his brief Wyndham Championship volunteer tenure and even saw Byeong Hun An make a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th hole during the Pro-Am, but for Saphar, it’s all about the people.

“So many awesome folks are a part of this tournament in one way or another,” Saphar said. “They have so many stories to tell about other tournaments they’ve worked and just have great conversations in general. Really, it’s just the whole five days at the tournament and all the experiences that go with it. From chatting with random fans in the bleachers while waiting for my groups’ tee times to helping fans find their way around the course, it makes it all worthwhile to keep coming back.”

Saphar and his wife, Jeanie, also retired from Wells Fargo, have one adult son who lives in South Carolina.

Hard-working, loyal, dependable and most of all, generous. Each of these qualities make this volunteer of the year what he is. He’s done a lot in his three years as a Wyndham Championship volunteer and 25 years as a blood donor, and it appears he’s just getting started. Lew, the Wyndham Championship appreciates you and everything you do. Thank you!

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