Island Resident Helps Bring Professional Golf to Charleston's Island Town

October 21, 2009

Denis Gallagher (left) and Tournament Director Kevin Canning hold the Nationwide Tour Championship cup during preparations for the event.

This weekend’s Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island is a world-class event that is bringing professional golf to the island. But for resident Denis Gallagher, the event is all about raising money for his company’s charitable foundation, the Student Transportation of America Education Foundation. Without his involvement, the tournament would not have made its way to the island.

“Since we moved to Daniel Island from Wall, N.J. nearly three years ago, I had been searching for a way to get involved in trying to bring a high-level event or some special recognition to the island,” says Denis. “It’s such a unique place.”

He was still searching when fellow resident and Vice President of Operations for the Daniel Island Club, Greg Keating, approached him about becoming the Host Organization for the season-ending event of the Nationwide Tour. Tour officials had been in discussions with the Club about bringing this highly-visible event to Daniel Island, but a non-profit partner was needed to make it work.

Student Transportation of America is the seventh largest provider of school bus services in North America.
Student Transportation of America is the third largest provider of school bus services in North America.

“It was the perfect opportunity for me to help showcase this community that I have grown to love and, even more importantly, it created an opportunity for me to bring my company’s Foundation here to Charleston,” Denis explains.

Denis is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Student Transportation of America, the third largest provider of school bus transportation services in North America. The STA Education Foundation is an approved 501 c3 organization that raises money to award college scholarships to students who demonstrate academic achievement, community service and leadership. Established in 2003, the Foundation has already provided over $100,000 to students trying to get to college.

“Education is the backbone of our society,” Denis says. “It’s so important that we give time and money to help those who want to attend college but might struggle financially. For my company, this mission is a good fit. And I really saw this golf tournament as a way to bring my business, this community and our Foundation together to help make a difference.”

The STA Education Foundation provides collage scholarship assistance to qualifying students.
The STA Education Foundation provides collage scholarship assistance to qualifying students.

Denis’ “relationship” with Daniel Island began on a plane one weekend in 2006 when he and his wife, Mary, were headed to Charleston for a short weekend trip. He was reading the New York Times on the plane and saw an article about Daniel Island.

“We had never heard of it before, and our curiosity got the best of us. When we got to Charleston this was our first stop. We met Rick Vale of Daniel Island Real Estate and – I almost hate to say this – we bought the first house he showed us.”

The Gallaghers settled into their Daniel Island Park home that same year and quickly became immersed in the community, particularly enjoying its recreational and social offerings. But beyond the championship golf courses, spectacular scenery, beautiful weather and active lifestyle, Denis says by far the best thing about this community are the people who live here.

“Previously, we lived in the same neighborhood for thirty years and barely knew the people next door,” he says. “Here, it’s totally different. Everyone we have met has made us feel like life-long friends. You can’t get that in many places that I know.”

It’s that spirit of community that Denis is counting on as the first of three Nationwide Tour Championships at Daniel Island begins (the event is scheduled to take place here through 2011).

“Although this is an international event in the eyes of the golf world, when it comes right down to it, we could not pull this off without the support of the local community,” says Denis. “The operations of the tournament are being handled by a team of residents and island employees at the Daniel Island Club and Family Circle Cup, and dozens of area businesses have stepped up as sponsors to help make this a success. It’s going to be a great week!”