New Jersey Devils centre Adam Henrique has joined the ranks of local sports greats after receiving the prestigious Walter Gretzky CNIB Celebrity Golf Classic award of merit during a ceremony following the 20th and final tournament on Tuesday.
“It’s very special, it being the last tournament,” the Burford native said. “I know Glen Gretzky did a lot for me to be here to accept it.
“The Gretzky family has done so much for me and for the people around the community.”
Henrique said he was proud to accept the award, which in the past has been presented to fellow local hockey legends Wayne Gretzky and Chris Gratton, choreographer Debra Brown and Olympic swimmer Julie Howard, among others.
“I have played in this tournament before and I have seen other people accept the award of merit,” Henrique said. “It is a tremendous honour to be up here accepting it myself.
“I would like to thank my family, because I wouldn’t be here today without them.”
Glen Gretzky coached Henrique for a few years when he played minor hockey.
“There couldn’t have been anyone better to win that award,” Gretzky said. “I think it was very fitting.”
Gretzky said longtime tournament organizer Sue Bartlett asked him if he thought Henrique should receive the award of merit this year.
Gretzky recalled that his brother Wayne once watched Henrique play minor hockey and was very impressed.
“I think Adam is gifted,” Gretzky said. “He always carried himself the right way. He knew the game and understood it.”
Walter Gretzky said his family has known the Henriques for years.
“We knew how special of a person he is from a young age,” Walter said.
Walter said Henrique is the perfect candidate for the award of merit.
“It looks good on the award itself for Adam to receive it,” Walter said. “He is a very well-deserving individual who never refuses to help anyone and shares his good fortune with others.”
In his closing remarks following the awards ceremony, Walter said the CNIB Celebrity Golf Classic has helped raise more than $1.2 million for the CNIB over the years.
“It has been an incredible 20 years,” Walter said. “All great things finally come to an end and so does our great golf tournament.
“People will enjoy their lives more because of all the support you have given over the years. God bless each and every one of you.”
Other award recipients during the ceremony included Bob and Sharon Thompson of M&M Meats, who were presented with the event’s sponsorship award.
Heather Roswell and Joe Persia were co-recipients of the Hella Goreski memorial award for being long-time volunteers with the tournament.
Brian Mandell was presented with the 2012 Dan Gallagher CNIB award for more than 25 years of support for the CNIB.