OUR VIEW: Humble Rod shares the glory

We say: Retired NHL star keeps the focus on finding CF cure

Rod Brind’Amour gets a lot of credit for the annual Cystic Fibrosis Golf Classic.

Deservedly so.

After all, the former NHL star literally helicoptered in for Saturday’s tournament at Storey Creek Golf Course while the numerous volunteers and organizers already on the ground continued with their labours.

But Brind’Amour is the first to deflect the praise back to those local organizers, sponsors, donors and even the golfers who have raised roughly $1.5 million in the 20 years the classic has taken place in his hometown.

In a speech during Saturday night’s dinner and auction at the Willow Point Sportsplex, Brind’Amour was alternately somber, humorous and humbled by the generosity the community has shown in helping seek a cure for cystic fibrosis.

In one anecdote, he noted that as a sports “celebrity,” he often gets asked to participate in similar fundraising tournaments, where he greets corporate-sponsored teams for handshakes and photos before jetting out of town.

“A lot of times, I’m in the plane leaving and going, ‘What was that for? I have no idea.’”

The Rod Brind’Amour Cystic Fibrosis Classic, though, has never lost sight of its mission. As nice as it is to see the money roll in for research into treatments and an eventual cure, Brind’Amour said the real benefit to the classic is the awareness it promotes about a pulmonary disease that strikes children and alters their lives irrevocably.

“You all know why you’re here,” he told the audience.

Brind’Amour was playing in the NHL when he answered a letter from 12-year-old CF patient Kim Black in 1994 and agreed to lend his name to a fundraiser.

Now retired, he recognizes that to keep up that awareness and keep the classic fresh, it needed new blood.

So he approached the classic committee to bring aboard Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a fresh-faced, B.C.-raised superstar now playing for the Edmonton Oilers, as co-host after four years of appearing as a “special guest”.

So the 21st annual event will be known as the Rod Brind’Amour/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Cystic Fibrosis Golf Classic.

As a fellow newcomer to the classic’s field of sponsors, the Mirror is proud to be a part of the cause and heartily welcomes Ryan’s addition.

Brind’Amour is a big man, and offering to share headliner status was a big step for the classic.

But he’ll be the first to admit the cause is even bigger.