Biddeford School Superintendent Jeremy Ray and BRCOT Director Paulette Bonneau, right, paused for a photo with Lou Chantigny, the former owner of TJ’s Pizza, who started a golf tournament to benefit students in 1996. He turned the remaining funds, $180,000, over to the school on Sept. 29. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — A healthy nest egg — proceeds from 16 years of a local golf tourney — will continue to benefit young people looking to further their education after completing courses at Biddeford Regional Center of Technology.

That nest egg, currently at $180,000, was formally turned over to the BRCOT last week by Lou Chantigny, who started TJ’s Pizza Golf Tournament in 1996.

The tournament was an annual event until 2012. Chantigny sold TJ’s Pizza about three years ago.

In an interview last week as he passed over the check, Chantigny said he was playing in a golf tourney himself when he mused that he would like to host one — and would like it to benefit a worthy cause.

He said Ron Gagnon, who was BRCOT director at the time, was playing just behind him, and suggested scholarships for students who were going on to further their education.

The tourney was an instant hit, Chantigny recalled.

“It grew out of hand,” he said. “People wanted to play because of BRCOT.”

As it gained popularity, the event filled Dutch Elm Golf Course with the maximum number of players, increased sponsorships among tradespeople, and a silent auction with coveted prizes enhanced the profits providing more scholarships.

Chantigny said plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and others played, happy to do their part to benefit BRCOT students.

The TJ’s Pizza Golf Tournament Committee began by donating $2,000 in annual scholarships. The amount grew over time, and now provides about $7,500 in scholarships each year to BRCOT students from Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Kennebunk, and the surrounding towns.

The tournament ended in 2012 — after 16 years — but the TJ’s Pizza Golf Tournament Committee continues to present scholarships, donating nearly  $80,000 to local students since its inception.

Not long ago, Chantigny decided it was time the balance, $180,000, was turned over to BRCOT and presented the check on Sept. 29.

“I can’t say enough about people like Lou and those who support (BRCOT),” said Biddeford Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Ray. He said the school would make sure the money is invested wisely.

BRCOT Director Paulette Bonneau said about 75 percent of students who graduate from their studies at BRCOT go on to a community college or a four-year program. She said college credits are available for some BRCOT programs — and with scholarships like those from the TJ’s tourney, students furthering their education get a financial break.

“It’s a great gift,” said Bonneau.

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