L-R Renee Seward, Andrew Bellamy, Chris Stranberg, Kacey Bannon Chad Valcour, Elizabeth Putnam.

by Jim Dolan

During a week that saw a lot of doom and gloom in the stock market, and so much negative news on the internet and in the newspapers, I opened an e-mail that reminded me about what makes me proud to call Kemptville my home town and the community of North Grenville a great place to live.

The first sentence of the e-mail read: “For 27 years, the “Memorial Family Classic” has raised money every year for residents of our community, providing financial support to those who have been diagnosed with a debilitating disease or medical concerns.”

The “Memorial Family Classic” is an annual fundraising ball tournament that is held at the South Gower Ball park on the second Saturday in June. It will be played June 9 this year. It hasn’t always been called the Memorial Family Classic. It originated in 1991 as “the Ron Vanden Tillaart Lob Ball Tournament. Ron was 33 at the time and a father of two young children, when he was diagnosed with a form of incurable prostrate cancer. Choosing not to just give up on life, Ron sought out a non-conventional type of treatment at a clinic in Toronto.

There were a lot of extra expenses for his family travelling back and forth to Toronto for his treatments. That’s when his lob ball buddies stepped up to the plate to raise money to help offset some of the financial burden facing Ron and his family. Ron passed away in February of 1992 and the tournament became known as the “Ron Vanden Tillaart Memorial Lob Ball Tournament. In 2001, when another member of the South Gower Lob Ball family passed away, it was renamed the Ron Vanden Tillaart and Brenda Finnerty-O’Neill Memorial Family Classic. In 2011, after 20 years, the tournament was renamed once again to “The Memorial Family Classic Ball Tournament”. It has consistently attracted 20-plus family ball teams. The players play not for just the love of the game on this day and for something much larger than hoisting the winning trophy, they play for the opportunity to give back to their community.

The Memorial Family Classic Mission Statement should be a must read by every political organization. Its Vision is: “To ensure to our dedicated participants that funds raised are solely donated to individuals and their families for expenses during a lengthy illness”. Its Values are equally worthy of repeating in print – (1) to be trustworthy in all that we do, (2) to be responsible and accountable for the funds raised, (3) to treat our participants, volunteers, and committee members with respect and honesty, and (4) to embrace an ethical fundraising practice. With a vision and values like these, it is easy to understand why this year marks its 27th year of fundraising.

To help achieve its 2018 fundraising goal, the Memorial Family Classic Committee held a 40-team – Non-Curler Bonspiel at the North Grenville Curling Club on Saturday, February 3. The event was so popular that it sold out in four days. The organizers noted that most teams have only one “actual” curler on each team.

The event was a huge success. The 160 participants and guests enjoyed a day of curling, a pizza lunch, a chili supper, music in the upstairs lounge, and a couple of well deserved “soda pops”. A few awards were also presented, and one lucky winner won Senators Tickets and Dinner in the Draw to the Button contest.

The individual who won the tickets donated them back to the organizers and an auction was held which raised an additional $625 for the Memorial Family Classic Fund. Barrie Taylor put his head up for auction, I mean hair, and that little caper also raised a considerable sum of money when he agreed to have his eyebrows shaved as well. The organizers also thanked the North Grenville Curling Club for donating the days ice rental back to Memorial Classic Fund.

I almost forgot that there were also forty winning teams as every team won a prize. However only the team of Renee Seward, Andrew Bellamy, Chris Stranberg and Kacey Bannon got to hold the overall championship trophy at the end of the day.

The biggest winner on this day, however, was the Memorial Family Classic Fund. The final tally is not in, but the organizers expect the event to raise around $7,500. Chad Valcour, the other members of the Memorial Family Classic Committee and the participants deserve a big THANK YOU for putting on a first-rate fundraising event that gives back to our community in a most positive and heartfelt way


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