How the AT&T Byron Nelson Helped Steven J. Dawson Become a Success, and Now he Is Helping Others

Ashley Landis/Staff Photographer Steven J. Dawson, with his wife Jaylauna and their 3-year-old twins Carter (left) and Seth Dawson at their home in Allen, credits the Salesmanship Club of Dallas and money from the Byron Nelson golf tournament to his success after overcoming a tough childhood.
Ashley Landis/Staff Photographer
Steven J. Dawson, with his wife Jaylauna and their 3-year-old twins Carter (left) and Seth Dawson at their home in Allen, credits the Salesmanship Club of Dallas and money from the Byron Nelson golf tournament to his success after overcoming a tough childhood.

We’re going to hear a lot about the AT&T Byron Nelson in the next few days, much of it delivered in that weird whisper of the golf broadcasters.

But one part of the story needs to be shouted from the rooftops. And Steven J. Dawson is the living embodiment of that piece.

Golf gets all the attention, but first and foremost, the Byron Nelson is simply a fundraiser. And the money raised helped Steven become the success story he is.

“I’m living the American dream, and I can’t quite believe it myself,” he told me last week. “Sometimes I feel like I’m looking at my own life from outside.”

It’s actually the boy inside the 30-year-old man who watches and marvels, the boy whose early life predicted anything but success.

His father was never around. His mother struggled to control her kids and her temper, neither with much success. Child Protective Services was a regular visitor.

He bounced between extended family. Home was “a little bit of everywhere,” he said.

He attended five high schools. One was inside the juvenile justice system, where he had been sent for selling marijuana.

Somewhere along the way, Steven was ordered into family and individual counseling at the Momentous Institute. In those days, it was known as Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers.

The Salesmanship Club of Dallas is a 90-year-old service organization dedicated to improving children’s lives. Its Momentous Institute serves 6,000 kids and families a year.

It does that in three ways: through counseling, an experimental grade school and professional training to spread best practices.

And the primary way the Salesmanship Club affords all that is by putting on the AT&T Byron Nelson. The golf tournament produced $5.6 million last year — far more charity money than raised by any other PGA tournament.

At age 13 or 14, Steven wanted no part of that counseling. “I hated every idea and iota of it when I was going through it,” he said.

But gradually, that changed. “It was good to have an emotional outlet,” he said. “And they genuinely seemed to care.”

His outlook and ambitions began to grow. “I didn’t want to be one of those ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ guys,” he said. “We had a lot of those in my community, sitting around and talking about how they almost made it big.”

Steven had always been good in school. An “undercover nerd,” he said. He began to apply himself.

Other positive influences came into his life. He began to date a good girl. “She was the first person I’d ever seen who had her mother and father living together in the same house. I said, ‘These are your real parents?’”

Steven and Jalauna have been married 10 years now and have 3-year-old twin sons.

A religious conversion at age 18 also changed him. “I was saved,” he said, “and Jesus became the focus of my life.”

That remains true. He and his family are active members of Providence Church in Frisco.

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Source: Dallas Morning News | 

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