ALS golfing fundraiser might be most successful yet

This year's Golf A Thon for ALS is on track to be the biggest fundraiser yet.
With three courses still to report and donations still coming in, 91 golf pros across the province have completed 13,604 holes so far and raised more than $105,364.82 for the ALS Society of BC, Wendy Toyer, the society's executive director, announced during the Golf A Thon wrap-up luncheon Wednesday at Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community.

GLENDA REYNOLDS

GLENDA REYNOLDS

This year’s Golf A Thon for ALS is on track to be the biggest fundraiser yet.With three courses still to report and donations still coming in, 91 golf pros across the province have completed 13,604 holes so far and raised more than $105,364.82 for the ALS Society of BC, Wendy Toyer, the society’s executive director, announced during the Golf A Thon wrap-up luncheon Wednesday at Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community.”This year, we actually exceeded 4,000 miles of golf,” she said. “Our golfers have golfed more than halfway across Canada.”The Golf A Thon for ALS, which is presented by PGA British Columbia, the ALS Society of BC, uniPHARM and Medicine Centre Pharmacies Charitable Foundation, has been running for six years.It is the largest fundraiser for the ALS Society of BC and Yukon, raising money to provide equipment and support for people living with ALS, a rapidly progressive, neuromuscular disease that is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.This year, Bill Kelly, Weston Gillett and Justin Howard from Glacier Greens Golf Course, Jason Andrew from Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community, former Crown Isle pro John Robertson and Doug Petrie from Sunnydale Golf and Country Club took part in the local Golf A Thon Aug. 5.Kelly and Gillett started the day, playing six rounds at Glacier Greens, and handed it off to Andrew, Howard,  Robertson and Petrie, who played five rounds at Crown Isle.”It was good fun,” said Andrew. “It was a real joy again, and definitely we’ll be in again next year and perhaps put a few more little things to the day.”The Golf A Thon for ALS started in the Comox Valley in 2005.ALS patient Bruce Taylor, Glacier Greens head pro Scott Fraser and Rotarian Jerry Feniak spoke about the need to raise awareness of ALS and raise funds to support those living with ALS, and Fraser decided to golf from dawn to dusk. He played 288 holes and raised more than $6,000.The PGA of BC adopted the fundraiser in 2006, and the number of golfers rose to 19.The Golf-A-Thon has grown every year, and last year, 90 golfers played 12,660 holes and raised $121,000.With the money raised through the Golf-A-Thon, the ALS Society of BC was able to provide two new patient services this year — Camp Alohi Lani, a weekend retreat for youth who have parents or grandparents living with ALS, and a psychological support program.Camp Alohi Lani was offered for the first time in July at the Zajac Ranch for Children in Mission, and ALS BC offered the camp to 26 youth aged eight to 17 at no cost to families.Two boys who lost their father in January told Toyer that without a doubt, it was the best weekend of their life.”We couldn’t do that if we didn’t have programs like the Golf A Thon,” said Toyer.The psychological support program was launched in January.Twenty-six psychologists across B.C. who have been trained specifically in ALS offer their services free of charge, and right now, 18 people are taking advantage of the program.”(It was) something that we’d dreamt about but couldn’t afford to do, so I really honestly cannot thank you enough,” said Toyer. “You’re making a big difference, not just in the lives of people living with ALS, but everybody that’s been affected.”As of Aug. 8, the Golf A Thon for ALS has raised $565,364 in six years. Pros across the province have golfed 56,480 holes or 3,138 rounds of golf in that time.The Golf A Thon fundraising total will grow next month when Brett Standerwick of Fairwinds Golf Club will golf to the top of Mount Golden Hinde to raise money for the ALS Society.Standerwick expects his climb to take three days, and when he reaches the summit, he will drive golf balls bearing the names of people living with ALS or lost to ALS from the North Central Island area — which people can be purchased for $100 — from the summit as a tribute.Moving forward, the ALS Society of BC is looking at offering a program for people who have lost someone to ALS because they don’t have anything like that right now.The ALS Society of BC is still raising money for the Golf A Thon, and donations can be made at www.golfathonforals.com.writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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