Ed Grisamore

Gris: LBC all about giving back

They don’t have regular meetings, elect officers or keep minutes. There are no dues to pay or by-laws to pass.

About the only time the LBC guys get together is to go hunting, play golf or watch football.

Sounds like the LBC could stand for Lazy Boys Club.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.

Over the past four years, they have raised more than $50,000 to help people facing health issues or down on their luck.

No, it’s more the Laid Back Club.

LBC stands for Lower Bibb County, which isn’t so much a geographic area as it is a state of mind.

Daren Montford and some of his buddies began talking about the LBC as far back as their high school days at Windsor Academy 14 years ago, a few years after country music superstar Jason Aldean matriculated there.

Daren and the LBCs didn’t define any boundaries. They didn’t limit it to a certain ZIP code or voting precinct. There weren’t any rules that you couldn’t live east of Walden, reside west of Rutland or be considered out of district if you were south of the gnat line along Echeconnee Creek.

They printed about 250 LBC decals and watched them disappear like paper plates of barbecue and peach cobbler at a church picnic.

They mostly gave them to family and friends, who stuck them on the back windshields and bumpers of their cars and trucks.

Soon, everybody seemed to want one.

They were oval-shaped with the three simple letters, similar to the popular decals touting vacation destinations -- SSI for St. Simons Island, TYB for Tybee Island and PCB for Panama City Beach.

In grocery store parking lots, gas stations and traffic lights, folks would scratch their heads and ask: “What does LBC mean?”

Keith “Lipps” Johnson, a devout LBC member, almost didn’t have the heart to tell his pastor, Hershel Sizemore, that LBC didn’t stand for Lighthouse Baptist Church, where he is a member.

Over time, the LBC crew printed 2,000 decals and gave away all of them. They have now ordered 500 more. At least four of the LBC band of brothers, including Daren, now have LBC tattoos.

But what “started as a joke” has become a gift that keeps on giving.

In 2010, a benefit golf tournament was organized for Mark Bennett, who suffered a major stroke in 20007. Mark had been a classmate, and he worked at Oakview Golf & Country Club, where the tournament has always been held.

They thought they might bring in a couple of thousand bucks to help with medical expenses. They raised nearly $13,000. After that, as one LBC founding father put it, “it took on a life of its own.”

Tournament organizers made just one mistake that first year. They scheduled it for July 30. The high temperature in Macon that day was a toasty 99 degrees.

By the next year, the tourney was moved to October. It was held to benefit LaZavier Lamb, a fifth-grader at Heard Elementary School suffering from a rare congenital condition known as arthrogryposis.

Over the next two years, the LBC raised money to help three other youngsters -- Peyton Newman, Kade Howard and Austin Freeman -- and an old friend, Art Maddox, with medical expenses.

“We didn’t expect all this when we started,” Daren said. “But we’ve grown and saved some of the money to help people when they need it. We were able to give a check for $1,000 to a family after their house burned down.”

The fifth annual LBC Charity Golf Tournament is Oct. 25 at Oakview. All 144 spots (36 four-member teams) have already been filled.

There almost wasn’t a tournament this year, but not for lack of want or need. Daren was busy with wedding plans. He got married Sept. 27, and he didn’t think he would have time to help organize it.

Then, Sept. 13, Monroe County Deputy Michael Norris was shot and killed while responding to a report of an attempted suicide. Deputy Jeff Wilson was wounded in the shooting.

News of Norris and Wilson hit home for Daren. He has grown up in a law enforcement family. His father, David Montford, is chief of staff and a 43-year veteran of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

At first, Daren wanted to hold the tournament as a benefit for the Norris family. After talking with Monroe Sheriff John Cary Bittick, the LBC decided to make it a fundraiser to help Wilson’s family.

Although there are no spots remaining to play golf, contributions are welcome. They can be sent to P.O. Box 3045, Macon, Georgia, 31216, or by calling Daren Montford (960-3563) or Keith Johnson (256-7543).

I didn’t grow up in Lower Bibb County, and I live 11 miles away from qualifying as a native son. But I was proud to become an honorary LBC member a few years ago.

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. I’m convinced that LBC must really mean Love, Brotherhood and Charity.

Contact Gris at 744-4275 or egrisamore@macon.com.

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