Hockey stars provide glitz to cystic fibrosis fundraiser but young mom gives it poignancy

Annual fundraising event held in Campbell River

It was another emotional but jubilant night Saturday at the 22nd annual Brind’Amour/Nugent-Hopkins Cystic Fibrosis Golf Classic dinner and auction.

Retired hometown hockey star Rod Brind’Amour and current Edmonton Oilers star forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave warm and moving speeches to the gathered dinner guests but the two pro athletes were overshadowed by the poignant and emotional address given by the young woman who started it all 22 years ago. Kim Wood addressed the gathering in a video recorded ahead of time because she wasn’t sure how well she would feel at the time of the banquet. As it was, she was feeling fine and was there to share the news of the birth of she and husband James’ baby boy, Charlie Wood.

Brind’Amour put Wood’s life journey in perspective for everybody.

“What an inspiration she’s been to me,” Brind’Amour said.

He added that he considers himself a very fortunate person who has five or six people in his life who have inspired him, one of whom he pointed out in particular, his mother Linda.

Brind’Amour said Wood is the reason everybody was there and said he looks at life differently because of Wood. Wood made him realize that you have to make every moment count.

“You don’t know what’s coming around the corner,” Brind’Amour said.

And what becomes important, he said, is making memories with the people you care about.

“I’ve got 22 years of coming back here sharing unbelievable times and memories shared with my people that I care about, which is all of you and my good friends and I owe that to Kim,” Brind’Amour said.

A few years ago, Brind’Amour brought along a young player to give the Brind’Amour Golf Classic some fresh blood.

“Keep the juice going on this event,” Brind’Amour said.

Nugent-Hopkins agreed to get involved and then added his name to the event to ensure it continued to move ahead.

Nugent-Hopkins thanked Brind’Amour for inviting him to be part of this event.

“Twenty-two years is a long time to be doing any event but to be making a difference like you are, you’re the perfect role model for me to be modelling myself after,” Nugent-Hopkins said.

Nugent-Hopkins didn’t know anything about cystic fibrosis (CF) when he first got involved but has since become more active and was asked by the Edmonton chapter of Cystic Fibrosis Canada to help with their event and now gives his time to both. Nugent-Hopkins said it feels like a second home now coming back to the Campbell River event each year and he congratulated everybody involved because they are making a difference.

The banquet then heard from Wood via video. She first off expressed her gratitude for Brind’Amour and Nugent-Hopkins for coming back year after year.

It’s been a big year for Wood. She and husband James moved back to Campbell River and that has involved challenges, particularly connecting with medical specialists in Vancouver. She reported that her health has been stable “despite a couple bumps in the road.”

Wood said she has been forced to think about how much longer her body can continue to fight this disease. But there are times like this that she realizes how lucky she is.

Wood revealed that one of her dreams was to become a mother and now that dream has become a reality. She announced to the gathering that she and husband James have a new baby boy delivered with the help of a surrogate and it was because of the imminent arrival of the newest member of the family that prompted the idea of addressing the crowd through a video.

Her journey toward parenthood has been filled with much excitement and some heartbreak but “mostly we’re just filled with so much gratitude,” she said.

“CF has stripped away many things from me but I think what’s important is that I have been able to overcome adversity and achieve these dreams I’ve had, like becoming a mom,” Wood said.

And one of the reasons she has been able to overcome adversity is because she has been surrounded by supportive people like Brind’Amour and Nugent-Hopkins and because of events like the golf tournament and gala. The money raised goes into research into finding a cure and for creating breakthroughs in treating people with CF.

The day began with 155 golfers teeing off under partly cloudy skies at Storey Creek Golf Club. Each and every golf team met for a photo with Brind’Amour and Nugent-Hopkins. Following that they got to play the signature 17th hole with the two NHL stars.

The winning team with a score of 16 under par was Doug Forbes King, Jason Andrew, Dave Wackowich, Liz Stirret and Rick Waldhaus.

The total raised by the event this year was $120,000.