By Pat Payton - Sports Editor, St. Marys Journal Argus
St. Marys, ON - A perfect day that exceeded expectations. That's one way to describe the 1st annual Brain and Mind Matters (BAMM) golf tournament last Friday at St. Marys Golf and Country Club.
The sold-out tourney (144 participants) was played in ideal weather conditions, with not a cloud in the blue sky overhead. Even more impressive was the staggering amount of money raised: over $150,000 for the Brain and Mind Matters Community Fund in support of traumatic brain injuries and mental health in Huron Perth.
The fund was started by the Staffen family, and their vision was to support outpatient care for individuals suffering from traumatic brain injuries and mental health issues. Staffen, himself, suffered a severe brain injury while cycling with friends near Palm Springs, California in October, 2012.
All proceeds from the tournament will go to the community fund through the Stratford Perth Community Foundation. Grants will be made annually from the fund to qualifying programs.
Roger Quinn, who co-chaired the event along with Matt Staffen, said over $100,000 was raised in fundraising ($73,580), offline donations ($6,100), sponsors ($19,050) and silent auction ($5,000). "And more donations are still coming in," Quinn said Friday night. The Staffen family also matched dollar-for-dollar for all tournament donations raised to a maximum of $50,000.
"It was twice what our (fundraising) goal was," Quinn told the Journal Argus. "We are stunned that people are so caring. We accomplished something pretty special today." The organizing committee's original goal was to fundraise $36,000.
Andrew Williams, CEO of the Huron-Perth Healthcare Alliance, was one of several speakers during and after dinner.
Williams said he is "thrilled" that the tournament is "raising awareness" about brain and mental health issues in our community. He noted that there are 11 suicides a day in Canada, "a terrible statistic." It was noted that one in five people live with some sort of mental health issue.
Other speakers included Tim MacDonald, honorary chair of the Stratford Perth Community Foundation, and Kristina Shaw, who talked about the mental health issues her family has been through.
Founder of the tournament, Rob Staffen, was the night's final speaker and he spoke from the heart. "It's amazing that we've been able to accomplish this excellent community project," he said at the podium. Staffen talked about how his brain had to be "rewired" at Parkwood Hospital in London, following his injury. "The brain needs a lot of time to heal," he noted. "Helping families through difficult times is very important," he said. "That's why BAMM was created, to help people and families with mental health issues. It something that affects many, many families."
Staffen also thanked the many BAMM volunteers, corporate sponsors and tournament participants. "Because of you, we can provide hope," he concluded.
In an interview with the Journal Argus, Staffen said he was "overwhelmed" with the response from people supporting this cause. "There's just been an incredible response from the community . . . beyond our wildest dreams," he said. "We wanted to create a community fund that would help people with outpatient care with traumatic brain injuries and mental health. We wanted to give back to the community and this has far exceeded our expectations. "We're so thankful for the people taking part and our committee, who have made this all possible.
"The community, in general, just wants to give back, and you just need to tell them the stories why it's important. We need to help these people and their families who are suffering," Staffen added.
--The top five individual fundraisers, combining for $15,965, were: Mark Thompson ($6,250), Kristina Shaw ($4,271), Deb Munro ($2,110), Bill McCauley ($1,884) and Barb Staffen ($1,450).
--The best golf score of the day, a sizzling 15-under-par 57, was posted by the 'Easy Lift Door' foursome of Mike Johnson, Darryl Sterkenburg, Glenn Bertrand and Dave Shepley. Johnson described their round as a "scrappy 15-under." They recorded 11 birdies and eagles on the par 5 No. 6 and No. 12 holes.
--Some individual winners were Joe Marcaccio (closest to the bridge on No. 1), Loretta Czernis (closest to the pin on No. 9), and Ken Dale (closest to the pin on No. 14).
--Team 341 Queen with St. Marys Golf & Country Club golf members Loretta Czernis, Bob Mills, Jonathan Rittenhouse and David Williams won Cowan's Fastest Group contest with a time of one minute, 20 seconds on Hole No. 10.
--Team McLean-Taylor won the 'Sheep Shootout' putting contest. The foursome consisted of Scott Schiedel, Braeden Marcaccio, Jeff Jones and Jeff Stacey.
--The Cowan Insurance Group was the day's Platinum sponsor.
--Home Hardware donated 25 bike helmets to the St. Marys OPP and to the Stratford Police Services for distribution to youngsters.
--In addition to co-chairs Roger Quinn and Matt Staffen, other members of the BAMM tourney organizing committee were: Amanda Willie, Ashton Kelly, Deb Munro, Jim Wilson, Julia Staffen, Kellen Fifield, Kelly Deeks, Leigh Youse, Norm Middaugh, Rasmus Fahraeus, Rick Fifield, Sam Corriveau, Sharon Staffen and Steve Shaw.
--To get involved in the 2015 BAMM golf tournament and/or to make an online donation to the BAMM Community Fund, click here OR send a donation to the Stratford Perth Community Foundation c/o the Brain and Mind Matters Community Fund at 55 Lorne Avenue East, Unit 5, Stratford, Ont. N5A 6S4 or call 519-271-1503