Mother Nature had her own plan for the Sept. 24 Movember in September golf tournament, but the days of rain preceding the fundraiser didn’t dampen the spirits of organizers or the golfers set to enjoy a day on the links.
It’s been a year and a half of pivots, and that is exactly what organizer Todd Thompson did. He made the decision to pull the plug on the golfing portion of the day on Sept. 22, posting the cancellation on social media. After two days of near record-breaking rain and winds, the course at Ainsdale was saturated and not fit for play.
Instead, he welcomed golfers to enjoy a long weekend, come out for a delicious dinner and take part in raffles, a silent auction and goodie bags, and almost everyone turned out.
“It’s not the day I planned,” said Thompson. “It’s not the day I envisioned, but the support is still there. If COVID has taught us anything, it is to roll with the punches.”
This is the first year for the tournament, which Thompson began pulling together in the spring. Motivated by his own experience with cancer, he wanted to host a fundraiser in support of the Movember campaign, an international organization that raises awareness of men’s health issues, including prostate and testicular cancer, mental health and suicide. By hosting a golf tournament, he hoped to raise money, while providing a great day for the community that showed him and his family so much support while he was ill. Last year he grew a “mo” for the campaign and raised approximately $13,000.
The evening was lighthearted and fun for all in attendance, with lots of laughs and cheers from guests. But the underlying message was clear – guys, get tested.
During the post-dinner speeches, Thompson described the weeks leading up to his diagnosis, recalling how cancer wasn’t something doctors were looking for because he wasn’t in the high-risk category. A PSA test - prostate-specific antigen – identified a high level of the antigen in his blood, which led to the cancer diagnosis and likely saved his life.
Two friends of Thompson’s, Scott Miller and Steve Jackson, are both cancer survivors. At the dinner they recounted their experiences with cancer and both agreed that early detection is key in beating the disease, as is having a team of supporters behind you when you are diagnosed. People need to talk about these cancers and inform their sons, friends and any men in their life that when something doesn’t feel right, get it tested, because it won’t go away if you just ignore it.
Thompson reached out to Kincardine native and mental health advocate Kendra Fisher before the event and she was happy to attend and share her feelings. She was overwhelmed by the support shown from the crowd and the strides made to end the stigma surrounding mental health.
“It’s about showing up,” said Fisher. “We don’t have to be doctors or psychologists to make a difference. This event (focusing on) cancer and mental health, I love the opportunity to be an ally. We still have so much work to do, for a man to talk about his emotions and say that he isn’t okay. Creating safe spaces is huge.”
In all, the first annual Movember in September golf classic, which Thompson calls the "dinner classic", brought in $10,554 for Movember. The value of the increased awareness in the crowd and community however, cannot be measured, but it likely far exceeds the dollars raised.
Tammy Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent