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Jason Blaine Classic raises $80,000

By Ryan Paulsen, The Daily Observer

Ryan Paulsen / Daily Observer
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Members of the organizing committee, beneficiaries and stars of the third annual Jason Blaine Celebrity Charity Golf Classic celebrate the annoucement on Wednesday night that the two-day event raised $80,000 for local causes.

Ryan Paulsen / Daily Observer
Members of the organizing committee, beneficiaries and stars of the third annual Jason Blaine Celebrity Charity Golf Classic celebrate the annoucement on Wednesday night that the two-day event raised $80,000 for local causes.

For a third year in a row, cheers erupted at the Pembroke Golf Club that had nothing to do with points, teams, winners or losers.

Standing on the lawn at the clubhouse on Wednesday night, after hours of golf under a pristine blue sky, and the day after a huge crowd enjoyed a star-studded gala concert at the Pembroke Memorial Centre, Jason Blaine officially revealed that the Celebrity Charity Golf Classic event that bears his name raised an incredible $80,000 to go back into local causes within the community.

The inaugural event in 2014 brought in $50,000, and the follow-up a year later raised $75,000, at which point most people thought that they'd more or less reached a ceiling of sorts, but despite the lofty expectations set by the first two, this year's fundraiser was once again record-setting.

Blaine himself has repeatedly said that the financial milestones, while a tribute to the community's generosity, have never been part of how he measures the success of the venture, but that it's far more important that they just get some money raised, however much that ends up being, to do good work in his home town.
To ask Rhodina Turner, executive director of the Pembroke and Area Boys and Girls Club, one of three primary beneficiaries of the fundraiser, the good done by the event is beyond debate.

"I feel we're very blessed that he's chosen the boys and girls club. He absolutely knows the difference that he's making with the funds that we've received. We're very, very blessed that Jason has chosen us again to help make a difference in these kids' lives."

Last year, the Jason Blaine Classic money helped the club launch two new programs (their Steve Nash basketball program and a weekly community dinner that feeds 30-45 kids a home-cooked meal each week), and this year the funds will go to keeping those programs going strong. The Boys and Girls club works with more than 300 kids in the Pembroke and Petawawa area.

In addition to the boys and girls club, the money will in part go to Blaine's alma mater, Algonquin College, to help them in their continuing quest to pay for their new waterfront campus facility.

"That was a 36 million building," says Waterfront Campus dean Karen Davies, "and we had to raise $2.5 million. Thanks to events like this, we're getting very, very close. We'll reach our target, we feel, within the next six months.

Another main beneficiary from the event is the Pembroke Petawawa Community Foundation.

"This event is absolutely phenomenal," says Matthew Bradley, foundation chairman. "It's well organized, and we appreciate very much Jason Blaine's contribution to the community. The idea behind the foundation is that we build up a permanent source of funds so that we can meet the greatest needs in the community at any given time. We give to all causes in the community; that's what makes it so wonderful. We have so many needs in this community, so we need to work hard, stay vigilant, and do things like this: enjoy ourselves and help people in our community."

New on the list of beneficiaries from this year's event will be local food banks and other projects to help the marginalized communities within the Pembroke area: St. Joseph's Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen and the local Salvation Army.

Although Blaine is the one whose name is on the Classic, he is the first to turn attention away from himself when it comes to credit for the success of the past three years. Following the fundraising tally announcement on Wednesday evening, he recalled a story from long ago that stuck with him.

"I was inspired years ago going to my good friend Gord Bamford's event in Lacombe, Alberta. He was the inspiration for an event like this in my home town. He told me at the time, because I told him that I'd love to do this in my home town, 'your event will live or die with the committee that you put together'.

"These people right here," he continued, turning his beaming smile on the gathered committee members, "have the biggest hearts, they're so community minded, and they're all tremendously smart and talented and lovely, lovely people.

"I just love them to death."

rpaulsen@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/PRyanPaulsen