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Middlesex County firefighters hold 13th, last golf fundraiser

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Middlesex County firefighters and supporters gathered on the green for the 13th and final golf tournament to raise money for muscular dystrophy. From left, Rob Damen, Bill Vandeworp, Rob Haines, Mike Hansen, Scott Turkheim, John Musser, Todd Robinson, Jeff Musser and Leslie Clark.
 

August 22, 2014
By Maria Church
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Middlesex County firefighters and supporters gathered on the green for the 13th and
final golf tournament to raise money for muscular dystrophy. From left, Rob Damen, Bill Vandeworp, Rob Haines, Mike Hansen, Scott Turkheim, John Musser, Todd Robinson, Jeff Musser and Leslie Clark. For more photos, see our
Facebook Gallery.
 

Goodbyes are bitter sweet and it was no different for firefighters who attended the 13th and final Middlesex County firefighters charity golf tournament Thursday.

For the 140 attendees of the sold-out event, held at the Oxbow Glen golf course, there was plenty of laughter and some tears as they gathered on the green for the last time.

The tournament raised funds for muscular dystrophy – a cause that fire halls across the country support. Middlesex County is the only county in Ontario that boasts 100 per cent fire hall participation in fundraising.

Launie Fletcher, district chief of the Coldstream Fire Station and man behind the golf tournament since its inception in 2002, said he is sad to see the event come to and end, but he can no longer run it.

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“It was a pretty tough decision and it’s a tough day for me, but everything runs its course,” he said.

Over 13 years, the charity tournament has raised more than $330,000 for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

Owen McGonigle, a 10-year-old with muscular dystrophy, was a guest of honour at the tournament again this year. He gave a heart-warming thank you speech to the crowd.

“I can't believe this is my sixth year,” he said. “I understand that all good things must come to an end and I must say goodbye to this gathering. Thanks to everyone who has given generously.”

Danielle Campo, one of Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s ambassadors, was the inspiration behind the first tournament and has been a guest of honour since. She also expressed an emotional thank you to the “people behind the boots.”

“Every year there is going to be a group of firefighters that are going to work harder, that are going to raise more…that gives us hope,” Campo said.

“Doctors have been able to do this research because firefighters have raised that money for them,” she added.

“That’s the reason we do this tournament, to help these people out,” Fletcher said. “Whether it’s used for education, equipment for the clients or donations for research, it’s all for a good cause.”
   
Each year, the golf tournament was feasable only though generous donations, Fletcher said, including use of the golf course for free, and large business donations from companies like ResQtech.

Connie Bailey, general manager of the golf course, said she doesn’t want to see the tournament come to an end, but is pleased they could be a part of it for the past 13 years.

“I feel sad because every year we look forward too it, but the seed has been planted. Good will always come out of this group. I feel awesome that we were allowed to be a part of it,” she said.