Steve Darling, Dan Hamhuis and a host of other celebrities from around Canada made the trip out to Smithers this past weekend for the 22nd annual Smithers Charity Golf Tournament and by all accounts, the event was a major success.
In addition to the golf tournament, a charity hockey game was added to the festivities on Thursday evening.The last celebrity hockey game was held over a decade ago, but with the recent groundbreaking on the new arena and the pressing need to top up the projects coffers, organizers decided to bring it back.
Before the game got underway, some major sponsors of the new arena were announced.
Dan and Sarah Hamhuis began the evening by presenting a personal donation of $50,000 to the new arena fund and several other local businesses added to the total. Newpro donated $20,000 and Edmison Mehr, the Bulkley Valley Credit Union, Bulkley Valley Insurance Services, Aqua North Plumbing, the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest and Glacier Electric all donated $10,000.
“The second sheet of ice is really important for the community,” Hamhuis said. “The arena in Smithers gave me the opportunity of pursuing my dream of playing in the NHL, and I want everyone in this community to have that same opportunity.”
Since July, the Second Sheet of Ice Committee has raised $145,000 of the $400,000 needed to complete the project and they are hoping to reach the goal within the next calendar year.
On the ice, the Celebrities lined up against a team of CIHL all-stars in front of a packed house at the Smithers Civic Centre.
The younger, faster All-Stars went up early and often on the Celebrities, but the old-timers battled and kept it close. Crowd favourite Dan Hamhuis led the charge for the Celebrities, with a few Bobby Orr-esque end-to-end rushes.
In the end the All-Stars won 10-6, but more importantly, fans were treated to an exciting game with an abundance of scoring chances and big-time saves.
Proceeds from ticket and concession sales benefited the Bulkley Valley Hospital and Health Care Foundation.
On Friday a few celebrities signed autographs at local businesses around town while others took advantage of the beauty of the Bulkley Valley, head off on fishing and rafting trips
The big draw of the weekend event got underway on Saturday morning with a 10:30 a.m. shotgun start at the Smithers Golf and Country Club.
In total 30 teams comprised of five players each tackled the 18-hole course but former AHLer Jody Pederson’s team came out on top with a combined -15, one stroke ahead of Steve Darling’s team, who finished at -14. Winners had their choice of prizes, a collection that included a 55’’ TV, a mountain bike and a surround sound system.
Shortly after, the night’s banquet and auction began. Up for grabs were a collection of signed and framed jerseys and a few sports themed trips.
A package of 2014 Super Bowl tickets and hotel stay in New York was the highest grossing item, going for a whopping $9,000. Coming in a close second, the two trips to Philadelphia to see the Flyers and Eagles play, with dressing room tours from former Flyer Joe Watson went for $8,250 apiece and the Dan Hamhuis donated Vancouver Canucks tickets and trip grossed $8,000.
Steve Darling added a little spontaneous generosity into the mix when he got up to the podium and announced that he would include a tour of the Global newsroom and an on-air interview, with the Canucks package.
In total, the live auction grossed $75,000.
“We were hoping to raise between $50,000-75,000, so, to get to that higher total, this was probably the best live auction we have ever had,” tournament organizer Kent Delwisch said.
No word yet on the total amount of money raised from the event, but organizers are expecting it to be a record year.
“The contribution and commitment our celebrities make to come to Smithers to help us raise money for charity is greatly appreciated,” Delwisch said in his message from the tournament chair. “It amazes me and humbles me to hear their compliments towards our group of volunteers.”
Many of the celebrities headed home the next day on early morning flights.
“I saw them off this morning at the airport, and everyone I talked to said they had a great time,” Delwisch added.
Former Canuck Dennis Ververgaert echoed Delwisch’s comments.
“It was such a great week. Everyone I talked to had a blast. It’s a first-rate, well run event and I know many of us are hoping to be back.”
It’s a another year away, but Delwisch doesn’t see any reason why their won’t be a 23rd annual tournament in 2014.
“We will sit down early next year and talk to our sponsors and our volunteers, but we always get such great support from the community. We are hoping to be back next year, that’s the plan.”