A golf tournament in honour of a local pastor raised a large sum of money for Teen Challenge Newfoundland and Labrador.
“We are pleased to announce our total for today’s event exceeded $70,000 and could very well reach $80,000 by the time all the pledges come in,” said Randy King, one of the tournament organizers.
And there was a special guest golfer on the field on Thursday for the Dale Vaters Memorial Golf Tournament.
The former Chief of the Defence Staff for Canadian Forces – the Canadian Forces’ Highest Rank General Rick Hillier attended the event with friends.
“I have been golfing for a lot of years,” General Hillier said at the Grand Falls Golf Club just before taking to the course. “I haven’t gotten any better, but I have been golfing for a lot of years, and I still like it just as much, even though at times it’s frustrating.”
According to King, one of his good friends, Eugene Wall, who is also a member of the organizing committee, grew up with General Hillier in Campbellton, and had golfed with him there a couple of times over the summer.
When the Dale Vaters Memorial Tournament came up in conversation, General Hillier was all for it.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic that we can have that kind of profile,” King said.
General Hillier said he decided to attend the tournament for a number of reasons.
“First of all it’s a great cause, it really is,” General Hillier said. “Anything that helps rescue people who perhaps have gone off the beaten path who need some assistance to get back on it or are willing to come back on it, that’s a awesome cause. And right here, I use a Telus motto, who are sponsoring the foursome I am in, they have a motto ‘give where you live,’ and I think giving where we live here now in Newfoundland and Labrador is a great way to be a part of the community.”
Secondly, General Hillier said, he has some great friends supporting that cause, and he wants to support them, too.
“Thirdly, it’s a chance for a great round of golf, or a round of golf, with some great people,” General Hillier said.
Though retired, Genera Hillier said he is keeping busy, including honourary appointments such as chancellor at Memorial University and the honourary patron of the Vimy Foundation and so on.
He is also enjoying fishing, golfing, boating and living in Newfoundland in the summer time.
“I have written two books; I am going to write a third one down the road,” General Hillier said.
“I’m as busy as I ever was,” General Hillier said. “I only do though what I want. I enjoy everything that I do and if I get up in the morning and find myself doing something I really don’t like, I only have one person to blame and that’s the guy looking back at me in the mirror.”
He also does a lot of things, mostly focused around leadership, working for companies to help with the development of their leadership.
“I do speeches, I do a lot of charitable work, mostly focused around military families…but not just,” General Hillier said. “I do prostate cancer, Ottawa Food Bank and something like this.”
This tournament, according to King, was formed three years ago when he and his friend Alvin Ball found out that Teen Challenge Canada was looking to build a centre in Newfoundland and Labrador.
They wanted to do something to help, he said, so they decided on a golf tournament.
In the meantime, a group of friends of Dale Vaters were also honouring and remembering his life with a golf tournament. In the late 1990s, Vaters started a golf tournament called the Parson’s Challenge, and his friends wanted to keep the tournament going after he passed away on March 15, 2009, at the age of 49.
The two grounds came together and the Dale Vaters Memorial Golf Tournament in aid of Teen Challenge Newfoundland and Labrador was born.
“It has become an annual event,” King said.
And it has been a huge success.
“Year one we raised somewhere in the vicinity of $30,000, which kind of blew us away,” King said.
Last year in its second year, there were 42 players along with corporate donations, raised $50,000.
This year, there we’re almost twice the number of players.
“It’s so exciting to see the response from the community,” King said.
Teen Challenge is dear to people’s hearts, he said, which is obvious to see.
“People will certainly open their hearts and their pocketbooks in many ways and say ‘I want to be a part. I want to help.’ It has been humbling, overwhelming, we’ve been totally blown away with the response. We appreciate all the support and it all accumulates for the greater cause.
“It is a great cause. At this point we’re well our way to having a centre set up in Newfoundland and we’re absolutely ecstatic about that.”
Unfortunately, he said, there is a need of an addictions centre.
George Glover, national director of Teen Challenge Canada, a registered Canadian non-profit organization with charters across Canada, agrees.
“One of the reasons we are opening here is because so many people from Newfoundland and Labrador are attending our programs across Canada at the other facilities and we recognized that it was high time that Newfoundland and Labrador had it’s own facilities,” Glover said.
“We have just purchased land and buildings in the Avalon and we are working through the municipal approvals right now to build a 25 bed residential facility on the property and that will be our first effort here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
They hope to open their doors in the next couple of years so they are in the midst of launching a capital campaign, he said, adding there are a number of volunteer groups across Newfoundland and Labrador conducting fundraising events to help raise funds so they can build the structure debt free.
“It’s an organization that’s being built by Newfoundlanders, it’s going to be run by Newfoundlanders, and it’s going to help Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and find a new start in life,” Glover said.
All the funds raised through the golf tournament on Thursday will be staying in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It will be going to help us build a building and get the organization rolling here in the province,” Glover said.
Kudos to a great team effort, he added.
“Any great organization is built on a partnership of people that recognize the value of an organization and giving back to the community,” Glover said. “This is a great example of that – businessmen and women who have a heart for hurting young people and recognize we, the organization called Teen Challenge, are giving back to the community by raising funds that will one day see young people go through the doors at Teen Challenge.
Teen Challenge Canada help young people with life-controlling drug and alcohol problems, Glover explained.
It’s a long-term residential program that has been operating in the country since the 1960s.
“We help people find a new start in life and empower them to live a life free of drugs and alcohol,” Glover said.
“If there is a family in need that has a young person, a guy or a girl, that has a life-controlling drug or alcohol problem they can certainly call us in Newfoundland and Labrador and until our doors get open here we would be glad to direct them to one of our facilities elsewhere.
Call (709) 781-8522, or toll free at 1-866-968-9450, or visit www.teenchallenge.ca for more information.