It is a fundraiser that the Women's Division of the Ken-Wo Golf Club takes very seriously, but as Jodi MacKay says, participants have a laugh and a half.
June 17 was a day of solid rain, but that didn’t stop the golf. One woman simply said she brought three changes of clothes to stay dry.
Another noted, “every one of us has been affected by cancer – a relative or a family member. We’re all affected, that’s why you see this community response.”
Costumes definitely add spirit to the competition. There are golfers as bumble bees and golfers as flappers.
The tournament started in 2004 and raised $2,000. It has now grown to a major women's golf event that annually raises roughly $10,000.
“The need is there,” says organizer Beth Lloyd, but women golfers “like to come and play Ken-Wo.”
The tournament’s popularity has increased exponentially as the event draws players from as far away as Truro, Halifax and Antigonish. When someone couldn’t make it a junior player, like Brett Van Blarcom, was happy to make the fourth on a tema.
Experience and membership at a recognized club are not a priority, Lloyd says, the common thread for all who take part is the desire to help. Every cent raised goes to this important unit, she added.
The field fills by mid-May and 144 players consistently support the early season event, according to Lloyd. She is often bowled over by the backing the tournament receives from the club and area businesses.
“I can’t say enough about the support. Ken-Wo gives us a break on everything” she notes. Club pro “Rene (MacKay) likes to encourage women’s golf.”
Three women do the soliciting for prizes and, Lloyd says, “we try not to drain local businesses. Golf Central in Halifax is amazing.”
She acknowledges she was watching the weather radar pretty closely leading up to the event, but the rain didn’t deter “a group of diehard people. It’s about friends, it’s not about golf.”
Not only that, “there’s no stress, no fuss and there’s a great flow of play.”
Close to $100,000 has been raised in 14 years through entry fees, donations, hole sponsorships, a variety of auctions and raffle draws, says Lloyd.
The camaraderie shows. Crazy hand-knitted socks go for $160 at auction and John Starr’s freshly baked bread went for $200. One year there was a bidding war and the loaf brought in $325.
According to the initial organizer Winnie Horton, in 2004 the women golfers learned from Cancer Care Navigator Nancy Roach about the acute needs of cancer patients in the area, relating to medical costs, equipment, and ambulance expenses.
Commenting on the tournament, Horton said, “providing relief where our health care professionals see it as being most useful, we are helping cancer patients in our communities deal more easily with some of the obstacles they face.”
Cancer Patient Navigation
A Cancer Patient Navigator helps when a cancer diagnosis brings with it fear, stress and a lot of questions.
Dianna Hutt is a trained oncology nurse at Valley Regional Hospital who can provide cancer patients and their families with support throughout the cancer journey.
According to Hutt, there is a team of six nurses and other staff members who assist patients. Navigators have an in-depth knowledge of cancer care, including both clinical and supportive care, and are connected to all community and provincial cancer services.
Hutt calls the contribution of the golfers remarkable. The funds allow her to hand out gas cards and contribute toward the cost of medications delivered at home.
Hutt says she sees the same faces every year at the Ken-Wo clubhouse.
“The atmosphere is of community helping community,” said Hutt, who has been a patient navigator for seven years.