Volunteer Spotlight

Bad pants. Big heart. Volunteer of the Year helps Houston newborns


The bad pants come in all shapes and sizes: Bell-bottoms, shorts, pleats, skirts, even kilts.

And the colors – they come in any color you can think of and in garish patterns that almost hurt your eyes: Checkered orange, striped teal, psychedelic floral, pink polka-dots. It’s all there every year on the greens of Houston’s Clubs of Kingwood golf course for the annual Bad Pants Open golf tournament.

four golfers posing in page

Four golfers sport their colorful pants at the 2016 Bad Pants Open. Photo courtesy of Texas Children’s Hospital.

But the Bad Pants Open isn’t really about the pants – it’s about supporting medical care for women and children. For 19 years, the tournament has benefited the Newborn Center at Texas Children’s Hospital, raising nearly $6 million in that time for the Houston organization. For 16 of those years, Les Fox, a financial advisor in RBC Wealth Management’s Houston office, has been heavily involved in organizing and fundraising for the event.

Fox has a very personal reason why he’s committed to helping the Bad Pants Open succeed: When he and his family experienced a potentially devastating event 31 years ago, Texas Children’s Hospital was there to help.  

Paying it forward

In 1986, Fox’s twin daughters were born 12 weeks early, a serious complication that threatened their immediate and long-term health. But after an extended stay at Texas Children’s Newborn Center, the twins emerged as healthy babies who grew up to be vibrant young women. Fox attributes their health to the hospital’s doctors, nurses, cutting-edge technology and outstanding care.

"Our girls are completely healthy today and I’m convinced that, without the incredible, state-of-the-art care they received at Texas Children’s, they would not have been so fortunate," he says. 

les fox darryl traweek in page

Les Fox (left) and Darryl Traweek (right) at the 2016 Bad Pants Open. Photo courtesy of Les Fox.

Several years after his daughters left the Newborn Center, the hospital started the Bad Pants Open as an annual fundraiser. Fox saw the tournament as an opportunity to give back to Texas Children’s, which had done so much to help him and his family, and to pay forward the experience his daughters received.

“We were such grateful parents, and we wanted to find a way to give back and continue the great work at the hospital,” he says.

He’s volunteered on the tournament’s organizing committee for the last 16 years, also working throughout the year to find new committee members and help secure sponsorship commitments through lunches, office visits and tours of the Newborn Center. He also works with RBC on the firm’s annual sponsorship of the tournament.

Julia TenHoeve, senior associate director of Special Events in the Texas Children's Office of Development, says that Fox has played an important role in the tournament's organization, and through his dedication, he has served as an inspiration for others.

"He gets people involved with Texas Children's, and he knows the hospital so well he's able to be a true advocate," she says. "His impact isn't just financial, but also through inspiring others to become an advocate for the hospital, which goes far beyond what we could quantify." 

golfers at driving range in colorful pants in page

Photo courtesy of Texas Children’s Hospital

The Bad Pants Open has grown from just a few dozen golfers in its first years to 370 participants in 2016, when the tournament raised $375,000 for Texas Children’s. The money has helped the facility enhance patient and family experiences, and continue to provide the same level of care to children, women and families that Fox and his family received three decades ago.

"It's hard to describe how amazing it is when patient families come back and give their time, funds, and connections to be able to ensure that other families can experience the great outcomes they had," TenHoeve says.

The tournament will celebrate its 20th year in October, and thanks in part to Fox, its future is as bright as the pants worn by its participants.

Helping the children and disadvantaged

In addition to his work with the Bad Pants Open, Fox, who was named RBC Wealth Management’s 2016 Dick McFarland Volunteer of the Year, gives countless hours to other efforts focused on helping children and people in need in the Houston area.

For 20 of the past 23 years, Fox has played drums in the orchestra in Houston’s Night Court, a long-running musical variety show which last year raised $140,000 for seven local charities providing legal services to children and people in need. He has also spent nearly two decades involved with the CHRISTUS Foundation for HealthCare, which seeks to improve access to health care for the disadvantaged in Houston.

"There are so many different ways to help your community,” Fox says. “I've just gravitated toward those organizations that focus on kids, and focus on those that can't do it themselves."

“If you can do just a little bit to make things in the world better, then you should,” he adds.

golfer teeing off in page

Photo courtesy of Texas Children’s Hospital


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