De Beers Canada and its local and territorial partners have outdone themselves once again this year, raising $66,000 for the Hay River Hospital Foundation and junior golf in the community.
The sixth instalment of the De Beers Charity Classic Golf Tournament increases the total raised since 2007 to $266,000.
This year, 22 teams registered, up from 20 last year, and that forced organizers to get creative with the course, instituting extra stops for putting and chipping challenges in order to keep the event rolling.
“All the spots were filled within a couple of weeks,” said Terry Kruger, a communications specialist for De Beers Canada. “We had companies sending in money but not entering teams and we managed to squeeze a few players in at the last minute.”
Those players came from all over Canada to join golfers from Yellowknife and Hay River for the day’s activities, which began just after 9 a.m. on July 6. Apart from the minimum donation of $1,000, teams helped in other ways, such as purchasing lengths of string as a means of advancing their game. If a golfer had enough string to cover the distance between where the golf ball last stoppedand the hole, it counted as in.
“This tournament is really played for fun and to raise money for a great cause,” Kruger said. “Everyone is here to have a good time.”
The tournament began in 2007 when De Beers made a commitment to spread the wealth outside of Yellowknife, where the company’s main office in the NWT is located. Kruger said, as a result of many De Beers employees living in Hay River and the South Slave, the community was a natural fit for the tournament.
With the $200,000 raised in previous years, the Hay River Hospital Foundation has purchased mattresses for extended care and Woodland Manor; rehabilitation equipment for occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech language pathology; and equipment for a new treatment room at the Hay River Medical Clinic, among other things.
This year, the tournament raised more than enough money for the intended purchase of portable emergency acute care equipment, such as blood pressure machines, a blood analyzer, rapid infusers to allow for the speedy administration of liquid and fluids, and more.
“We will be moving into a new health centre in the coming years,” said Barb Holland, a member of the Hay River Hospital Foundation Board and a nurse educator mentor. “So we wanted things that we can easily take with us.”
The H.H. Williams Memorial Hospital doesn’t only serve Hay River and the Hay River Reserve, but surrounding communities like Fort Resolution and Enterprise, as well.
“We really take in all of the South Slave,” Holland said. “We’re so appreciative of De Beers making a commitment to partner with us to support health services in the region, similar to BHP Billiton’s work with Stanton.”
In the highlight of the tournament, the prize for this year’s Diamond Shootout – a De Beers diamond worth $4,000 – went to Coun. Jason Coakwell, whose golf ball landed four feet and six inches away from the hole. Hay Riverites proudly noted the diamond prize has never left the community, with Hay River North MLA Robert Bouchard winning twice in three years and Mike Harris rounding out the group.
As for plans for next year, Holland would like to see even more teams participate. Out of 22 this year, only five were from Hay River, although there were many local players scattered throughout the other teams on the golf course.
“De Beers sets itself a higher goal every year and that’s always great to see, but it would be great to see more local teams coming out, too,” she said. “We need to support our own, and, really, De Beers organizes everything, so we can just come out and enjoy.”
— Sarah Ladik