College Friends Turned Philanthropic Behemoths

Pat kilkenny and peter jacobsen interviewed at lucky duck foundation's swing & soiree

Insurance magnate Pat Kilkenny and professional golfer Peter Jacobsen’s friendship started like many others. They were fraternity brothers at the University of Oregon, eager to find their places in the world and make an impact. But that is where the normalcy ends. They both achieved in making an impact to such an extent that decades later they each have major athletic facilities at their alma mater named after them: “Kilkenny Floor,” Oregon’s iconic basketball court; “PK Park,” Oregon’s world class baseball stadium; and “The Peter and Jan Jacobsen Oregon Golf Teaching Facility,” Oregon’s brand-new state of the art golf facility.

As one would expect, these honors followed many decades of collectively donating tens of millions of dollars to charitable causes.

It started when Jacobsen serendipitously teed up Kilkenny to make his first philanthropic gift at the Masters. Kilkenny was at Augusta to watch Jacobsen compete for a green jacket, and was pleasantly surprised to see Don Monson, Oregon’s head men’s basketball coach, was also there. Kilkenny introduced himself and they became fast friends. When Kilkenny asked how he could support Monson’s basketball program, Monson said they needed video equipment, so Kilkenny gave what for him at the time was significant: $5,000. “It may not sound like much, but at that point in my career, it was a stretch. I was just starting to build my business which as you can imagine had endless challenges, but it just felt like the right thing to do.”

Kilkenny’s philanthropic passion to make an impact was ignited. And like the Masters, his generosity has become a tradition unlike any other. He and his wife Stephanie are co-founders of the Lucky Duck Foundation, a nonprofit focused on preventing and alleviating the suffering of homelessness throughout San Diego County, for which they match all donations up to $1.5 million per year. The foundation has purchased and installed industrial tent structures that shelter 450 individuals nightly; funded more than 20 different employment and job training programs benefiting more than 1,000 individuals; distributed more than 12,000 winter coats that transform into sleeping bags; created a public grading system to evaluate politician’s effectiveness in reducing homelessness; and much more. The Kilkenny’s chose the name “Lucky Duck Foundation” as a nod to Kilkenny’s Irish heritage and the Oregon Ducks.

“I have been extraordinarily blessed in my lifetime and aiding those in need brings Stephanie and me great joy and fulfillment. Inviting our friends and fellow San Diegans to do the same is something we look forward to every year.”

And the individual who regularly serves as the Lucky Duck Foundation’s emcee at their fundraising events? None other than Jacobsen, who went on to win 18 professional golf tournaments, was selected to two Ryder Cup teams, and is a regular contributor on the Golf Channel and NBC for major golf events. Additionally, Jacobsen’s namesake sports marketing and event management company has produced more than 250 events and contributed more than $40 million to nonprofits. Jacobsen was selected as the 2013 Payne Stewart Award winner, which recognizes the professional golfer who exemplifies character, sportsmanship, charity, and the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

“Peter is off the charts. I am not convinced the public understands the magnitude of the Payne Stewart Award. And the fact he jumps on a plane from Florida to help us raise critically needed funds, often heading home the very next day, is just one glimpse into his amazing loyalty and generosity,” shared Kilkenny.

Lucky Duck Foundation’s mantra, “share your luck,” is meant to encourage those who have had good luck in their lives to share their luck with those in need. Their next event is the Spring Swing golf tournament fundraiser on April 29 at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.

“I have been to a lot of charity golf tournaments and gala fundraisers,” Jacobsen added. “I am not saying this because they are my close friends, I am saying this because it is the truth: Pat and Stephanie’s event is one of, if not the best event. It is fun, well run, and impactful. I highly encourage anyone who has not participated to give it a shot.”

A lifelong friendship predicated on sharing their luck every year to aid those in need. A friendship, and tradition, unlike any other.


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Kamran Saeed