Vital People: Golf for Kids fundraiser hopes to make a huge difference in our community

Vital People: Golf for Kids fundraiser hopes to make a huge difference in our community
WatchDedicated volunteers at Golf for Kids are raising money for charity this week with a huge silent auction and virtual event. Tess van Straaten shows us why.

For 18-year-old Jonathan Gingras, the e-bike he received from Golf for Kids and Help Fill A Dream has given him freedom and independence.

“Taking off to the moon!” laughs Jonathan , when asked what the big means for him. “Yeah, freedom.”

Jonathan was born with health issues so severe, doctors told his parents it’s a miracle he survived.

“Jonathan was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia that left him with only 20 to 30 per cent of normal lung tissues,” explains Leoni Gingras, Jonathan’s mom. He could not swallow, he could not breath on his own. He couldn’t eat.”

Jonathan also had complete hearing loss and he’s had to have dozens of surgeries throughout his childhood.

“He had many, many surgeries,” Leoni says. “He had an artificial spine at three, an artificial hearing at 2, and he went through surgeries every four to six months for over 10 years.”

After his final surgery, Jonathan’s wish for an e-bike was granted by Help Fill A Dream — thanks to the money raised by the dedicated volunteers at Golf for Kids.

“When we first started to meet a lot of these families, it hits you in the gut,” says Golf for Kids co-founder Dale Douglas. “It’s emotional. You just can’t believe some of things families have to deal with.”

Dale Douglas and Murray Stewart started the Golf for Kids charity 23 years ago and they’ve raised millions of dollars to help dozens of local charities.

“We culminated five years ago with our first million dollar event — so $1 million raised in that afternoon!” Dale says. “It’s amazing, it’s powerful. Followed up by another million, followed up by another million.”

Then COVID hit, forcing last year’s event online but it still managed to raise more than a half a million dollars to make a difference in our community.

And they’re doing it again this year, with another virtual fundraiser hosted by CHEK’s Ed Bain on September 10th.

There are also more than 175 amazing silent auction items you can bid on now (until September 12th) on the Golf for Kids website as they try to raise as much as they can for charities hard-hit by COVID.

“Overall, the need continues to go up, sadly, and the donations continues to take a nose-dive, so it’s more important than ever right now that everybody does what they can,” says Dale.

As for Jonathan, there’s no slowing him down now.

“He has to slow down so his peers can keep up with him and the same for us, he has to slow down,” says Leoni and when Jonathan is asked if he slows down, he gets a big smile on his face.

“Ah, sometimes,” laughs Jonathan.

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Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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