Team PK (Travis Zachary, Jeffrey Diabo, Teken Diabo and Kenneth Montour) is one of the many foursomes who take part in the biggest fundraising events of the year to benefit the local hospital. (Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door)
Today, golfers will tee off in the biggest local fundraising event of the year, and one that has generated almost $500,000 for the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre and other organizations in the community.
Before he was a Mohawk Council of Kahnawake chief, Frank McComber helped start the first tournament as a member of the Kanawaki Golf Club. For Frank and his wife Donna Delaronde McComber (chair of the foundation’s board), the tournament is about giving back.
“It helps the community, it helps the hospital, it helps the foundation, it brings the community together. It’s a fun time, (and) it’s a beautiful course,” said Frank.
Foundation director Lois Montour works tirelessly to organize sponsors, players, vendors and events throughout the tournament. Montour said the community and surrounding communities’ support is always impressive.
“The community is very generous,” said Montour. “We can always count on the community members, our businesses, our organizations and our surrounding communities. We owe them and our volunteers credit for our success. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we’ve been doing over the years.”
This year, the foundation pledged $50,000 for the Kahnawake parks. The sports and recreation unit of the Mohawk Council is working on refitting and revamping Sesame Street Park to help children with sensory disabilities or have issues with social isolation.
Montour said the community always steps up big when it comes to supporting the hospital and other organizations.
“It’s very impressive,” said Frank on seeing Montour work. “And she doesn’t get enough accolades about it, and she probably wouldn’t even accept any even if we tried.”
The main bulk of the funds raised each year goes to specific hospital needs.
The tournament has helped purchase beds and EKG machines at the hospital, as well as renovating the dentistry clinic and providing money for the healing gardens. In addition, the tournament has raised funds for KSDPP, the local team going to the North American Indigenous Games, and the Starcatcher Productions theatre group.
“It’s a shock how incredible it is,” said Frank. “With Lois leading the way and all the board members, it’s spun around dramatically from the first few years that we started.”
Frank got the idea of having a tournament after attending similar tournaments, including one put on by the couple’s friend, former NHLer Scott Gomez in Alaska.
“I just said, geez, we’ve got to do our share,” said Frank, who then approached the foundation with the idea of sponsoring the tournament.
Donna joined the board of directors in 2016. Her reason is simple: the hospital cared for her grandmother Evelyn Dell.
“The Kateri Hospital took great care of her,” said McComber. “Through all my life I remember them being a big part of her life…When the opportunity came to do this for the hospital, it was a no-brainer.”
The tournament funds allow the hospital do “what needs to be done,” said Montour.
“Right now, with the expansion and renovation coming to an end, there are going to be a lot of items identified once they’re done,” said Montour. “We’re trying to be ready for that ahead of time because we know it’s coming.”
Hiccups do occur from time-to-time.
Montour has injured herself multiple times, the norovirus broke out one year, and weather is not always the kindest.
“The one thing that we really learned is that rain really sucks,” said Montour with her characteristic huge laugh. “We are prepared this year. We have an umbrella sponsor.”
Despite hiccups large and small, organizers know its value.
“Golf is a way that you can meet people all day, communicate and it’s fun,” said Frank.