It isn’t every day you hear of a charity golf tournament that’s lasted 25 year and raised $1 million.
But Fore the Cure organizers expect to hit the mark Friday when the 25th tournament tees off.
That’s $1 million to support breast cancer research and preventive services in memory of Pam Kohlmeier, a Sarnia woman who fought hard but succumbed to the disease in 1992.
“It started with a group of family and friends sitting down after my sister-in-law passed away, asking what we could do to fight breast cancer,” said Denise Kohlmeier.
“Inspiration from Pam rallied a lot of people initially. Many came back every year and new ones have joined us now,” she added.
“I look out at the audience when I speak every year and realize we all have a story. We all want to help one another.”
The Fore the Cure tournament at the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club has such a staunch following it generally has a waiting list.
This year, the number wanting to play grew so large the committee opened it up to a record 40 foursomes, and anticipate 280 at the dinner afterward.
“We’re very fortunate to get this kind of support,” said Kohlmeier. “There’s so many people and sponsors in our community that help.”
In attendance will be Pam’s two children, Mallory and Jamie, who lost their mom when they were little and who are now 29 and 31 years old.
“Her children and mine were young when she passed away and the tournament is a good way for them to see how inspiring she was,” said Kohlmeier. “We also have a lot of fun.”
Pam was 38 when she died and had fought the cancer over four years. At a time when treatment options were limited, she endured numerous surgeries, biopsies, stem cell harvesting and transplants, chemotherapy, spinal taps, and all the side effects that came with them.
“She was a very strong woman,” said Kohlmeier. “She agreed to cutting-edge treatments that hadn’t been proven and she encouraged her family and friends to fight for more research and better and earlier diagnoses and treatments.”
The tournament has raised about $40,000 annually, which is split between the mammography unit at Bluewater Health in Sarnia and the Pamela Greenaway-Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit at London Health Sciences Centre.
Some $950,000 was generated the first 24 years and organizers are optimistic that enthusiastic support for the 25th will raise $50,000 more.
“That’s pretty good for a local event,” Denise Kohlmeier said. “Breast cancer touches a lot of people and a lot of people have a stake in it. This is just a very supportive community.”
A six-minute video produced for the 25th anniversary by the Bluewater Health Foundation will be shown at the tournament dinner. It features doctors, nurses and researchers who work in Sarnia and London hospitals, and who have seen the good that’s been done with Fore the Cure dollars.
“Although the tournament is a lot of fun, we want to bring it back to the essence of why we are all there, and this video does that,” she said.