With the PGA's BMW Championship set to start in two months, fans across Illinois and in the Midwest look forward to seeing the world's top 70 golfers compete at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont.
For caddies with aspirations for college, however, the BMW Championship is more than a sporting event. It's an opportunity and a gift stemming from of its contributions to the Western Golf Association's four-year Evans Scholarship Program.
"It's a blessing. It's one of those things that once you get, you got to keep it going," said Alban Mehmetti, one of two sons in a family of Kosovars who fled Yugoslavia in the Balkan conflict of 1999.
The Mehmetti family lived in a refugee camp in Macedonia where they were subjected to an uncomfortable family living situation, sometimes cramming around 60 people into a small tent due to a lack of sufficient space.
Escaping war at home and refugee life in Macedonia, the Mehmetti family emigrated to Michigan City, Ind., in search of a better life.
As soon as the Mehmettis arrived in the U.S., they were faced with assimilation complications. Parents Hahta and Jayla Mehmetti didn't speak English, and despite their experience as CEOs abroad and both having mechanical engineering degrees, their language inadequacies forced their sons to seek work to help support the family.
The two boys, Alban and Luke, found work as caddies at nearby Dunes Club. The Dunes Club's president, Mike Donovan, took the two boys under his wing as the Western Golf Association director.
They understood that with hard work and good grades, the Evans Scholarship Program would open doors to opportunities in both of their lives
Alban has since graduated from Indiana University with a degree in infomatics, and Luke is currently a pre-med, biomedical engineer major at Northwestern University.
Northwestern would be completely out of the question if it wasn't for the scholarship," said Luke Mehmetti, a sophomore. "Now every penny I make throughout my lifetime will be because of the scholarship. The value is priceless."
"They had a dream," said Donovan."They followed their dream and the Evans Scholarship gave them the opportunity to accomplish their dreams."