Trent Birt doesn't hesitate when asked what has kept the P.E.I. Golf Classic going for 25 years.
“Great people,” he said.
The group consists of celebrities, participants, sponsors and committee members.
“There’s a lot of great people connected to this golf tournament for all of the right reasons,” he said. “They want to support the cause.”
This year’s tournament will take place July 12 at Fox Meadow Golf Course in Stratford and will be the last edition of the event, which Birt estimates will have raised between $600,000 and $700,000 for charities after the final tournament.
Birt said the event still has leg, but it is a lot of work for the committee to pull off annually.
“It will be mixed emotions,” he said of the final tournament. “I am not looking forward to signing off at the banquet on July 12.”
Committee members are hoping to see many familiar faces on the course to celebrate the tournament’s success.
“Whether you’re in it for one year or whether you’re in it for 25 years, it takes all of those little pieces to get us to a silver anniversary,” Birt said.
He started the tournament in 1994 while working as the Boys & Girls Club of Charlottetown’s fundraising co-ordinator. It was intended to help replace the funds raised through the club’s softball tournament.
The club received the golf tournament’s funds for 23 of its 24 years.
Birt said he watched as the club expanded its programs and memberships since the golf tournament started.
“Perhaps we (were) a little piece of that, and if that’s the case, great,” Birt said.
The committee, knowing it had a few years left, considered supporting a few other causes.
“We wanted to branch out to some other charities that were close to individual people on the committee,” Birt said. “We made sure that the boys and girls club was OK with that and they certainly were.”
The event raised funds for Anderson House, the Upper Room Food Bank in Charlottetown and the P.E.I. diabetes camp for kids last year, and they will be the beneficiaries of this year’s event.
Shawn and Troy MacKenzie of KKP Charlottetown became involved as participants of the tournament about a decade ago. Shawn said the celebrities from both the athletic and musical fields were all down-to-earth and approachable people.
“A lot of these people are living lives that we dreamed of when we were kids . . . like a little kid interviewing a fireman,” Shawn said.
Troy joined the committee a year ago and when they were discussing charities to support one hit close to home for the MacKenzies.
Shawn’s daughter, Tory, was six years old when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago. She was going to be able to go to a P.E.I. diabetes camp until the families learned it wouldn’t be operated in 2018.
But with the support from the golf tournament and other supporters, a new camp was formed.
Shawn said he will never forget picking Tory up after her first camp.
“In four days, she looked like she aged three years,” he said. “She had dreadlocks for hair, gigantic bags under her eyes and a smile on her face you couldn't knock off with a two-by-four.
“She was beside herself and asleep in 45 seconds from the time she got in the car.”
She is already thinking of this year’s camp. Shawn said it is a great opportunity for the youth to participate in a camp with others with diabetes.
The golf tournament begins with a noon shotgun start. After the tournament there’s an East Coast kitchen party, which was added to the event about a decade and has attracted musicians to the event.
Tournament organizers are hoping to have a full field of 36 teams participate. To register, contact Birt at 902-394-1298.
A look at the list celebrities involved in this year’s P.E.I. Golf Classic:
Frank (Seldom) Beaton
Dr. Bill Stanish, world renowned orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician/Canadian team chief medical officer at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.