By Anna Smith
What began as a celebration in 1991 after a homegrown star won his first Stanley Cup now celebrates a tenth event and the support of a giving community.
In honour of Bonnie Campbell and Harvey Nixdorf, two pillars of the Bow Island community who passed in recent years, 2023 marked the most recent Troy Loney Charity Golf Classic. This year saw another fully sold out event, said Co-Chairman Craig Couillard.
“We had 125 golfers. Wow. Plus another 125 for supper and the auction,” said Couillard. “I would say there were over 100 auction items, as well.”
This is generally in line with what is seen when the classic is hosted, which only occurs when the organizers see a need for it in the community. The event had run annually while Loney was still playing hockey for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but shifted following his retirement.
During its annual years, the classic raised roughly $55,000 dollars for various projects and causes for the community; however, as it was not intended to compete with local non-profit organizations, the event retired with Loney, until it was revived in 1999 to fund a memorial scholarship following the passing of Troy Knibbs, who had been named after Loney.
The classic would run again in 2014, 2016, and 2021, before coming to this past Thursday.
“It’s a memory of those two, who left us too soon. And they were both longtime community minded people in Bow Island,” said Couillard. “This year, the funds will be going towards a new playground in the Westview Subdivision here in Bow Island.”
The future, all-inclusive playground is guaranteed to have accessible components so that all of the town’s youth will be able to enjoy the results of the project.
The total raised this year was approximately $175,000, which thrilled and humbled the committee.
“We’re thrilled that the community came out to support us and we had a lot of support from the business community in terms of auction items. We’re always overwhelmed by the support we get from Bow Island,” said Couillard.
This amount also pushes the total raised over the years to just over one million dollars.
There is a slight bittersweetness to the accomplishment as Couillard shared that this will be his last classic as co-chair, as he plans to retire. The work that he’s done over the years was recognized by the town, as well.
“Craig Couillard was recognized by the Town for his support for, and leadership of the Troy Loney Charity Golf Classic with the Key to the Community. Over 10 events this dedicated group of volunteers has raised approximately $1Million for various causes and projects in our community,” said Mayor Gordon Reynolds. “These volunteers have done an amazing job and have contributed greatly to the quality of life in Bow Island.”
The gesture was a surprise to Couillard, but he expressed gratitude for the recognition of his work with the classic over the past 32 years.
“Craig has led this group from the outset, harnessing the talents and passion of his diverse team resulting in 10 very successful events that have benefited the whole community. Craig is a born and bred Bow Islander and even though he has lived elsewhere for some time he has continued to give back to his hometown. The presentation was the Town’s way of recognizing his leadership and thanking him,” said Reynolds.