The Vernon Golf Spectacular will feature sport professionals such as (from left) Justin Baillargeon

The Vernon Golf Spectacular will feature sport professionals such as (from left) Justin Baillargeon

Pros tee it up for Golf Spectacular

Special Olympics and Kindale are bringing back the Vernon Golf Spectacular June 20

Local pros, of all sports, are up for auction as they hit the links in support of empowering ability in those with a disability.

Special Olympics Vernon and Kindale Developmental Association are bringing back the Vernon Golf Spectacular June 20 at Vernon Golf and Country Club.

The fundraiser offers a unique opportunity to join special athletes and sports pros on the course for an afternoon full of golf, fun and prizes (including a hole-in-one vehicle from Watkin Motors).

“Our tournament is different,” said Cindy Masters, co-chairperson of the event, which has a twist.

Sport professionals will be auctioning themselves off to teams, who will give tips and assist players to decrease their score.

“They are going to golf with you as a member of your team,” said Masters.

Troy Mick, former Portland Winterhawks scoring star, was one of the first to get on board with the event.

“I think it’s very important that the hockey community gives back,” said the Salmon Arm Silverbacks general manager and former Vernon Vipers coach and GM. “And hockey and golf seem to go hand in hand.”

Other pros up for grabs at the Golf Spectacular include:

– Norman Kreutz, 2014 men’s champion at VGCC and director of Snowsports at Silver Star;

– Kyle Grummett, 2014 Special Olympic Gold medalist in golf;

–  Justin Baillargeon, CPGA assistant golf professional who started his pro career at VGCC;

– Hall Thomlinson, PGA of Canada member who helped build Canoe Creek Golf Course and is the former GM at VGCC, among others;

– Levi Arcega, CPGA member from GolfTEC;

– Kyle Miller, CPGA member from GolfTEC;

– Mike Soergel, CPGA member from GolfTEC.

“This tournament rings true for all of us at GolfTEC,” said Soergel, as one of their own overcame his own disability to excel in the sport.

Despite suffering from cerebral palsy and being told he would never play golf, Miller taught himself to play and is now a scratch golfer.

“He is an inspiration to all of us,” said Soergel.

Miller’s dedication to succeed is much like that of Grummett, the Special Olympian from West Kelowna.

“I started golfing at age three or four,” said Grummett, formerly of Saskatchewan.

With one gold already, Grummett is also headed to the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in July.

For athletes like him, having a place to excel, and shine, has a tremendous impact on their lives, according to Britta Gretzmacher, Special Olympics volunteer and co-chair of the Golf Spectacular.

“It is proven that with newfound confidence our athletes are transforming their lives, in social as well as health aspects and have the opportunity to find employment with the help of organizations like Kindale,” said Gretzmacher.

Funds raised at the Golf Spectacular will be used to buy needed sports equipment, facility rentals, registration fees and send athletes to competitions.

There are 14 sports and 140 athletes in Special Olympics Vernon.

Funds raised will also aid Kindale in equipping a training centre being established in Armstrong which offers an employment readiment program.

“Working together to help make the wishes and dreams come true for a segment of our community that are often forgotten is truly magical,” said Masters.

For more information or to register for the event, which is more than half full with just 16 team spots left, visit www.VernonGolfSpectacular.com or call Masters at 250-546-3005.