Actor/comedian Rob Riggle gathered a few of his Hollywood friends to play some golf at North Ranch Country Club in Thousand Oaks on Monday in his second annual InVETational Golf Classic.
Among those who came out to join the former "Saturday Night Live" and "Daily Show" regular were actors Kurt Russell and Patrick Warburton, as well as Fox TV NFL regulars Curt Menefee and Jay Glazer.
While Riggle loved hanging with his fellow celebrities, the former Marine was even happier to be surrounded by the members of the United States Marines Corps and other branches of the military to play golf and raise money for the Semper Fi Foundation.
The nonprofit organization provides immediate and lifetime support to post-911 wounded, critically ill and injured service members from all branches of the military. Since its inception, the Semper Fi Fund has assisted more than 18,500 service members and their families, totaling more than $150 million in funds.
As a 23-year member of the Marine Corps from 1990 through 2013, Riggle is glad he can use his celebrity to help fellow veterans.
"I love golf and play in a lot of other people's events, so I figured, why can't I have one of my own?" Riggle said. "I have watched their work from afar, so I reached out to the Semper Fi folks to see if they were interested in us raising money for them, and they were happy to have us.
"Last year we raised about $150,000 and we are upwards of $180,000, but have some (corporate people) who are matching what we raise, so we we're hoping to get over $300,000."
People familiar with Riggle's work in show business might be surprised to find out about his former life as a Marine Corps officer who reached the level of lieutenant colonel.
Riggle joked his tour of duty lasted longer than he thought it would. He spent nine years on active duty and 14 years as a reserve.
During his time on active duty, Riggle was deployed to places all over the world. He helped evacuate the United States Embassy in Liberia in 1996 and dealt with the refugee crisis in Kosovo in 1999.
While serving in the reserve corps in New York City, Riggle's unit was called into service on 9/11, where it served as first responders at Ground Zero.
Riggle started his military career as a pilot but switched to a ground unit because it gave him more flexibility to pursue his acting career.
"I remember being on 'Saturday Night Live' and going from Thirty Rock (where the show is filmed) down to 45th and Lexington (in New York City) to do my drills with my reserve unit," Riggle said.
"When I was working on the 'Daily Show,' I would fly from New York to California on weekends throughout the year to do training at the Miramar Marine Base. I did that for years and was happy to do it. I was proud to serve and I love the Marine Corps and I love this country."
His movie credits include parts in hits like "The Hangover" and "Step Brothers." Riggle has appeared on TV shows like "Modern Family," "The Office," "Angie Tribeca," "Bob's Burgers" and "The League." He's also part of Fox's NFL pregame show.
Riggle is passionate about golf, even though his schedule hasn't left him much time to play.
"I love a lot of other sports, like baseball and basketball, and still play them as well, but it's hard to get guys together at this age to do that," said the 47-year-old. "I like that golf is individual sport, one where you can go out and play with a few friends or even by yourself.
"It's very social and the courses are usually really beautiful, so it's a great way to spend time with friends and be active."
Riggle, who plays to a 12-handicap, showed off his skills during Monday's event by traveling around the course and playing one hole with many groups.
Having moved to Westlake a few years ago, Riggle likes to sneak out to Sherwood Country Club or Rustic Canyon when he has time to play.
Having grown up around the Kansas City area, Riggle is a devoted fan of the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs.
He's also a devoted fan of the University of Kansas, where he received his bachelor's degree in theater arts.
Last year he got the chance to take his son to a Jayhawks basketball game at famed Allen Fieldhouse.
"It was fun to take my son there and let him experience that atmosphere," Riggle said.
He's thrilled to devote his time to the golf event.
"These guys (wounded veterans) deserve our help and support, so I am so happy I can do something for the cause," Riggle said. ___
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