Year after year, the Michael J. Fox Golf Tournament raises tens of thousands of dollars for the Burnaby arts community – and it all started as a humble fundraiser.
Fifteen years ago, Gary Morrey, chair of the board of directors of for the Michael J. Fox Theatre Society, and Chad Turpin, deputy city manager at the City of Burnaby, came up with the idea to host a charity golf tournament to raise funds for the theatre, located at Burnaby South secondary. The tournament and gala dinner were held at the Riverway Golf Course, raising a modest $4,000 for the society in its first year.
More than a decade later, the event has become one of Burnaby’s most popular charity events, bringing out nearly the maximum number of participants each year.
“We started off as a small golf tournament with Chad Turpin and myself running it,” Morrey said. “So now it’s quite a difference.”
This year’s event, held on June 27, once again saw 144 golfers take to the links at Riverway Golf Course to shoot 18 holes and socialize with Burnaby-bred Michael J. Fox himself.
“This year he brought his son Sam with him and his brother and his mother, and the usual entourage that he brings, which is very good,” Morrey said.
Despite the rain, Morrey said no spirits were dampened and the jovial mood continued on into the evening when 320 people gathered at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown for the gala dinner and live auction.
“It’s very upscale,” he said. “The star of the show, of course, is Michael.
This year, Michael participated in a question and answer period during the dinner, which Morrey said was very well-received by guests. Michael, who was quick on his feet to answer questions on his life in New York, his favourite restaurants and how he feels about his role on The Good Wife.
“It went over very well. People were really happy about it,” Morrey added.
The gala’s live auction was also one of the most exciting moments of the evening, according to Morrey – especially when it came down to bidding for a weekend trip to New York City, which included lunch with Michael J. Fox.
“It went in a frenzy for about $3,200. Quite a few people wanted that,” he said.
Overall the event raised $62,000 for the Michael J. Fox Theatre Society and scholarship fund. The scholarships are given to four or five students each year who demonstrate a desire to pursue an education in the arts – anything from performance art to stagecraft, Morrey added.
After 15 years of organizing and hosting the charity golf tournament, Morrey was happy to say the majority of sponsors and participants have come back again and again.
“About 75 per cent of the golfers have been golfing with us for 15 years and about 70 per cent of the sponsors, right from the beginning, stayed on board,” Morrey said.
Major sponsors for the 15th annual tournament included Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, DSDL Canada Investments LTD., Scotiabank, Michael J. Fox, Mission Hill Family Estate, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, Align Entertainment, Burnaby Lake Greenhouses Ltd., Burnaby Firefighters Charitable Society, City of Burnaby, Metrotown Mazda, Brentwood Mall, Michael J. Fox Theatre, Me ‘n’ Eds Pizza Parlors, Burnaby NOW, Bosa Properties, Golf Burnaby Riverway Golf Course, Vancouver Giants, Morrey Auto Group, Tourism Burnaby, and Cathay Pacific.
Special thanks to the Burnaby NOW for their support and encouragement!