Golfers tee off on 8th annual tournament for ALS

By Jill Sperling
August 18, 2016 - 1:17pm Updated: August 19, 2016 - 11:05am

KAMLOOPS — The 8th annual ALS Golf Tournament of Hope kicked off at noon today, Aug 18, at The Dunes. 

The fundraiser brings golfers together for one common cause: to support people living with ALS. 

ALS Society of B.C. Executive Director, Wendy Toyer says 30 per cent of the funds raised at the tournament will be used to purchase medical equipment for people living with the disease.

"The tournament started by a young man by the name of Clayton Smailes, who used to be part of your TV station, and Clayton was very passionate about the communication devices," Toyer said. "He actually was a pioneer in actually testing out some of the devices for us, and so it's important to us that all people living with ALS have means of communication, so the money will go towards buying that equipment."

Among the 122 golfers taking part in the event is the Smailes family, including Clayton's widow, Colleen. 

"It amazes me every year that as golfers come around and you talk to them you realize that many of them are here for a personal connection that we don't know about," Colleen Smailes said. "Some are here to support Clayton and others to support other family members that they have lost, but there us also every year a new golfer that is here who has had a family member affected as well." 

Anna Caferra lost her husband, John, to ALS 10 years ago. He passed away only 14 months after his diagnosis. 

"Very hard, it's very hard to swallow when your husband's diagnosed or anybody," she said. "It's a shock because you never expect it to happen to you, and ... it's been a battle." 

The tournament is a source of hope for Caferra, and many others who want to raise awairness for ALS. 

Toyer says many of the people involved have known someone affected by the disease, and continue to give back long after their loved ones have passed.

Some of the prizes are dedicated to those loved ones. 

"This year we have a very special prize that we're initiating in memory of Rick Dunbar," Toyer said. "We lost Rick Dunbar this year to ALS and Rick had a pilot car company so people are going to be competing to get closest to the light, which is the amber flashing light from the top of one of those trucks, and the person that gets closest to that will get to have the trophy with Rick's memory on it." 

The tournament raises between $20,000 and $30,000 each year for the ALS Society, and with the biggest turnout yet the hope is to exceed that amount this year.

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