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Nugent-Hopkins signs on as Brind’Amour co-host

Rod Brind'Amour coaxed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers to join him as co-host for next year’s 21st annual event

For 20 years, Rod Brind’Amour has been helping raise money to seek treatment and a cure for Cystic Fibrosis through the Rod Brind’Amour Golf Classic. Saturday night, he upped the ante when he coaxed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers to join him as co-host for next year’s 21st annual event at Storey Creek Golf Course.

“Ryan deserves a big hand,” Brind’Amour told the crowd, which rose in a standing ovation when the announcement was made during the classic’s dinner and auction at the Sportsplex. “But my name’s still going on the top!”

Between the event’s many sponsors, its 155 golfers, auction donors and volunteers, more than $93,000 was raised Saturday. That brings the 20-year total to approximately $1.5 million raised to combat the devastating respiratory disease.

“That’s pretty generous for a small community like Campbell River,” said Grant Stewart, a longtime member of the Campbell River Cystic Fibrosis chapter who has also served on the golf classic organizing committee for each of its 20 years. “That’s quite a feat. It really shows the generosity of the golfers and sponsors and donors in the community.”

Kim Wood, whose letter to Brind’Amour as 12-year-old Kim Black in 1994 started both the golf classic and a lifelong relationship, spoke of the advances made in cystic fibrosis (CF)treatment in the last 20 years.

Once known as a childhood illness because sufferers rarely lived into adulthood, CF now has more adult patients in Canada than children.

“I didn’t think we’d still be here doing this 20 years later,” said Wood. “I thought we’d have a cure.”

She then showed an emotional slideshow, featuring fellow CF patients Michael Hamilton and Mackenzie Norris, contrasting the reality of their day-to-day lives against images of what they could be in a world free of CF.

Nugent-Hopkins, a 22-year-old NHL All-star who hails from Burnaby, has been involved in the last four classics at the invitation of Brind’Amour, who coaches for the Carolina Hurricanes.

The two joined each group at the tee box of Storey Creek’s signature 17th hole, posing for team photos and lending their tee shots to the best-ball play.

Brind’Amour approached the classic committee about adding the young star as a full co-host as a way to keep the event fresh and perhaps even increase awareness in the fight against CF.

“I’m not playing anymore, and I think it’s time for some new blood,” Brind’Amour told the crowd.

“I thought that was a class move by Rod to do that,” said Stewart. “I think it helps, too, that they’re both down-to-earth guys.”

This year’s golf tournament came down to a five-team tie for low score at 12-under par. After the tiebreaking count-back of scorecards, the title was awarded to Victor Choo, Ken Bell, Art Swanson, Len Anglin and Hal Fraser.