It was truly bittersweet to see golfers on the course at the Brantford Golf and Country Club this week during the 20th and final Walter Gretzky CNIB Celebrity Golf Classic.
During its two decade run, the tournament has raised $1.2 million for Brantford’s branch of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, money that has helped 540 visually impaired students pursue post-secondary education through scholarships from the Wayne and Walter Gretzky Scholarship Foundation.
As the commemorative Walter Gretzky CNIB Celebrity Golf Classic magazine included inside this week’s Brant News illustrates, the annual tournament has drawn hundreds of celebrities to our city in support of the CNIB and Gretzky family. They include luminaries like Gordie Howe, Johnny Bower, Phil Hartman, Red Green, Mike Bullard and many more.
Each year, the Gretzky tournament has honoured outstanding Brantford natives who have excelled in their fields with its award of merit. Past recipients of the award include Doug Jarvis, Pat Hickey, Hartman, Arnold Anderson, Ted Beare, Wayne Gretzky, Gord Paynter, Keith Jones, Walter Gretzky, Chris Gratton, Rick Mannen, Kevin Sullivan, Ed O’Leary, Debra Brown, Jordan Szoke, David Hearn, Julie Howard and Jay Wells. This week, New Jersey Devils star Adam Henrique became the tournament’s final award of merit recipient during a presentation following the event.
Each award of merit recipient deserves credit for their accomplishments and contribution to community life in Brant.
As many have said in this, the final year of the Gretzky golf classic, “all good things must come to an end.” Seeing the end of the tournament was certainly a sad moment, but Brant residents should feel grateful for the many good works it has helped make possible over the years.
Perhaps Wayne Gretzky said it best in this week’s commemorative magazine.
“I hope that everyone had a wonderful time doing something that is for a great cause,” Gretzky said. “I know there are a lot of families and people in Brantford – like the Rizzo family, people like Ron Finucan and Zig Misiak – who jumped in from day one just to help my dad and be part of doing something special for kids that are less fortunate. Those are the best memories and that’s what it’s all about.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Many deserve credit for the success of the Walter Gretzky CNIB Celebrity Golf Classic over the years. First among the many is the Gretzky family, especially Walter, whose tireless efforts to help those who are less fortunate and boost the Brant community never fails to amaze us. On behalf of all Brant residents, thank you, Walter, for all you do.
The many volunteers who have helped make the Gretzky classic a success for two decades also deserve our gratitude, as do the players, sponsors and supporters who have been a part of the event. Thank you to all.
While replacing a high-profile fundraising event like the Walter Gretzky CNIB Celebrity Golf Classic will be more than a tall order, here’s hoping the giving spirit displayed at the tournament each year lives on in the Brant community for decades to come.