After a fun-filled tournament with outstanding weather and colourful participants, it appears that the highly successful inaugural Kelly Hrudey and Friends Charity Golf Classic has set the groundwork for a tournament that could become a mainstay of the Columbia Valley for years to come.
“I have to tell you, I was blown away by the event itself,” former NHL goaltender and CBC Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Kelly Hrudey told The Valley Echo. “I’ve talked to everyone here and they’ve given us nothing but positive feedback.”
Taking place at Copper Point Resort and Golf Club from Tuesday, August 14 to Thursday, August 16, the tournament boasted a long list of high profile athletes and celebrities who came out to support the featured charities. Olympic gold medalist Catriona Le May Doan, Vancouver Canucks forward Mason Raymond, TV’s Mantracker (Terry Grant), four-time Stanley Cup winner Bob Bourne and Invermere’s own World Cup skier Ben Thomsen were just a few of the big names that put in rounds on Copper Point’s golf courses, where a total of 80 golfers took time to raise money for some very deserving charities.
“It was a lot of fun; to be back at home is one thing but then also to be involved with this great [tournament] and giving back… it’s awesome,” Thomsen said. “The turnout was fantastic, I’m really impressed with the first year and I hope it continues to grow for many years.”
This year, selected charities included the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre, the Invermere Summit Youth Centre and the Invermere Hockey Canada Skills Academy. Each charity also had representatives attend, and tournament co-chair Joanne Gray said the charitable aspect of the tournament really set it apart from other events for her.
“It feels amazing… and it was all for the right reasons,” Gray said. “Sometimes you can put on a spectacular event, but you don’t always get that reward that you’ve done something really great for these charities, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Both Gray and Copper Point general manager Brian Schaal were quick to credit the nearly 100 volunteers and numerous staff who helped make the tournament happen, and said they had both received innumerable compliments about the general friendliness and helpfulness of everyone involved. Schaal added that after talking with Hrudey for nearly a decade about making the tournament happen, he was still slightly in shock that the whole event was over.
“I think anytime you do something for the community, you see the entire community coming forward and helping out,” Schaal said. “Seeing everyone have a good time… the interaction that the celebrities had with all the guests as well as the tournament helpers and volunteers, it reminded me of a great big family reunion, and that’s what we wanted. We wanted people there for the right reasons, to support the charities and help out, and we picked a great crowd of people.”
Based on the success of the first year, Hrudey, Schaal and Gray all were extremely optimistic about the possibilities not only for next year, but for years to come, and Schaal said based on the comments he received he would be surprised if a single participant didn’t want to return next year.
“It was a great first year, it went over well and the community was behind us, which is what we wanted,” Schaal said. “The first year was great, and the second will be even bigger and better.”
“I’m really hoping the valley will embrace us down the road again,” Hrudey said. “Hopefully we’ll be here for years to come.”