The 19th Annual Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament

John Davidson and Jeff Preston preparing for the $25,000 cheque presentation

I remember not knowing quite how to feel the first year Port Elgin Rotary approached my family and asked if they could hold a charity golf tournament to honour the work I had done for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada. Obviously I was absolutely humbled by the kind offer but it was a lot for a 12-year old to process at the time. Mostly, though, I was just excited to have the opportunity to continue raising funds to fight Muscular Dystrophy, driven by the recent loss of a dear friend who had Duchenne, Muscular Dystrophy.

After the second year, I remember driving home from the Saugeen Golf course and my mom warning me not get my hopes up because this tournament, named after me, would likely not continue for much longer. My mom knew better than most that these types of charitable events were huge undertakings and energy–and funds–were quick to wane.

Leafs sweater signed by Baun, Bower and Jeffrey
Hot item in this year’s life auction: A Maple Leaf’s Winter Classic sweater signed by Bobby Baun, Johnny Bower and Larry Jeffrey

Years later and I’m proud to say my mom was totally wrong.

Last week marked the 19th anniversary of the “Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament,” organized by Port Elgin Rotary and held at Saugeen Golf Course. To date, we have now raised over $1.2 million to support MD research across Canada, most recently directing funds to Jesse’s Journey. Once again, we had a full slate of golfers (41 teams in total) taking to the course on a beautiful Friday afternoon. It is truly amazing how many golfers have returned every year with most having attended the tournament for more than a decade. Because of their dedication, and the hard work of local Rotarians, we were once again able to donate $25,000 to MD Research and step that much closer to finding a cure.

I just wanted to take a few moments to publicly thank everyone who worked so hard this year to make the tournament a success once again. First and foremost, a huge thank you to Kevin Carter for chairing the organizing committee this year and keeping everything on track. Similarly, I would also like to thank Rob Dunlop for his work recruiting celebrities. Of course, I’d like to thank all of the dedicated Rotarians who work behind the scenes before the event and volunteer on the day of the event–without you, this could not be possible. I would also like to thank all of the celebrities for taking the time out of their busy schedules to join us, especially those who have returned year in, year out. Thank you again to Bruce Power and Unifor, our two title sponsors who have been with us since the beginning, along with the Power Workers Union who show up in force every year. Lastly, I would like to thank the golfers for giving their time and money to this cause that is so dear to me, my family and others within the MD community.

Thank you to everyone and I can’t wait to see you all next year at our 20th anniversary celebration!

Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament 2012

A list of celebrities at the Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament
A list of celebrities at the Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament
A list of some past and present celebs of the tournament

This past Friday was the 17th annual Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament, an event Rotary runs yearly in my honour to raise money to help find a cure for Muscular Dystrophy. This event is without a doubt the high point of my summer and something I look forward to every year. Once again, we had a packed field of golfers who braved the heat for a good cause, raising over $25,000 to be donated to Jesse’s Journey. I am absolutely humbled and forever thankful for continued support of the Port Elgin community getting behind this tournament in a huge way for nearly 2 decades. For all of those involved in the planning, operating, playing and sponsoring of this tournament, I cannot say thank you enough.

This year also came with some particularly shocking news. As you may or may not know, I have spent the past two years attempting to find a way to drive a vehicle independently. My dream of driving a car took a serious blow in late 2011 when I was informed the only way I could drive was with advanced hand controls and automated ramp system which would cost close to $90,000 — adaptions that are not covered/augmented by any government or non-profit funding available to me. It appeared there was no realistic way to make this dream a reality in the near future.

Cheque presentation at the 17th Annual Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament
Cheque Presentation

I was surprised, however, on Friday night by an announcement at the tournament from Duncan Hawthorne (CEO of Bruce Power) that the requisite money had been raised in collaboration with Port Elgin Rotary and I will be receiving a fully adapted van in the next few weeks. That’s right, sports fans, I will be driving by the end of the month! After all these years I will finally be able to drive independently…and three days later I’m still kind of speechless.

I could honestly gush for hours and hours about how thankful I am but honestly words don’t even begin to express how thankful I am. To this point I have lived a charmed life and it is all thanks to the limitless support I have received from my family, friends and surrounding community. Thank you for believing in me, supporting me, and I promise this van will be put to good use.

Thank you.