(From left) Darren Ottenbreit

(From left) Darren Ottenbreit

Golfathon yields great rewards

A long day of golf has paid some huge dividends for the 2012 PGA Golfathon for ALS.

A long day of golf has paid some huge dividends, as the 2012 PGA Golfathon for ALS has raised over $750,000 for ALS research and care this year.

“Because of the Golfathon we’ve been able to expand over and above just providing medical equipment to people living with ALS, which is how our society got started,” said Wendy Toyer, executive director for the ALS Society of BC.

“A program like this really lets us kick it up a notch.”

During the month of June, which was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) awareness month, 80 golf professionals at 37 golf courses throughout British Columbia golfed from sunrise to sunset, collecting donations and raising awareness for ALS. In the East Kootenay region, Eagle Ranch Golf Resort, Windermere Valley Golf Course and Copper Point Golf Club all participated in the day-long event. Each course has participated for a number of years, and this year turned in an astounding 2,889 combined holes played in a stretch of 24 hours. At Eagle Ranch, Steve Haggard, Tyler Hawthorne, Carson Wallace and Kris Paul-Clarke combined to play 387 holes, at Windermere Valley, Casey Johnson, Dale Moore, Dave Dakin, Ken Litchfield, Vic Briar, Jake Cameron and Phil Burke combined for 1,638 holes played, and at Copper Point the foursome of Brian Schaal, Darren Ottenbreit, Alex Parsons and Scott McClain played a total of 864 holes, or 216 each. For Copper Point, this meant a combined 3,029 swings, 132 birdies, one eagle, and for the third consecutive year, one hole-in-one, this year sunk by Parsons.

“It’s nice to have the support of people who golf in the community as well, because people are asking, and when we’re out (on the course) they come in and make donations,or go online and make donations, which is nice as well,” said Schaal, general manager of Copper Point. “Every year you seem to touch someone else… it’s nice to be a part of it and to make a difference.”

For Copper Point, the four golfers started at 5 a.m. didn’t finish until 10 p.m., and even then were only stopped from playing another round by an oncoming thunderstorm.

“It’s fun to start for sure — I mean it’s fun the whole day, but you get pretty tired and you start to get pretty sore at around 7 or 8 p.m.,” said Copper Point golf pro Ottenbreit. “When it starts to get a bit tiring out there you think about what we’re out there doing — it’s a rewarding day for sure.”

On Thursday, July 12, Toyer personally visited each of the golf courses to offer her thanks and show her appreciation on behalf of the ALS Society of BC. Toyer had extremely high praise for the golfers that took part, calling the Golfathon one of their biggest fundraisers and personally lauding the efforts of everyone involved.

“They are my heroes, and they are the heroes of people living with ALS, the children that are affected by ALS,” Toyer said.

“It’s amazing, and inspirational.”

Funds from the event will go to a variety of sources, but one that Toyer noted in particular was the Camp Alohi Lani program. From July 12 to 15 the ALS Society of BC hosted a free four-day summer camp for youth who have a parent or grandparent living with ALS. The camp is a safe setting for youth to come together and share their experiences with their peers, and receive support for their own journeys. The camp is funded entirely by the Golfathon, but as Toyer explains, what  she truly hopes is that there won’t be a need for such a camp in the very near future.

“I want to retire when I’m 60, but I can’t stop until we find an end for this,” Toyer said. “The future of the event, is hopefully in the very near future, I’ll be coming up here and celebrating the fact that each and every one of us in our own way has contributed towards finding a cure for ALS. And that day is going to come soon.”