Masters champ Mike Weir paid a virtual visit to Rideau View Golf Club on Thursday to launch his 2017 Mike Weir's Miracle Golf Drive for Kids that will take place at the club Sept. 10-11.
Allison Franceschina, the manager of CHEO's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Neonatal Transport Team, explains the Neonatal Transport Incubator at a media event to launch the 2017 Mike Weir Miracle Drive For Kids charity golf tournament. Funds from the tournament at Rideau View Sept. 10-11, will be used to help purchase another of the $400,000 transport incubators.
Weir joined the media conference at Rideau View via Skype and will be on hand in September for a full slate of events, which will raise funds to benefit CHEO, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
"After my first year on Tour and once I started having some success, I wanted to give back and (helping children's hospitals) struck a chord with me so that's how I got started," Weir, who won The Masters in 2003, said.
"These events over the years are run so well. I can tell right now with Rideau View and the hospital, this looks like it's going to be a great event for a great cause. I feel very fortunate to have such a great team. The doctors and nurses doing this great work for these kids makes it very satisfying."
Winning the Masters raised Weir's status on the Canadian sporting landscape. The 46-year-old, whose PGA Tour career has been curtailed by injury and declining results, was named to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
"The very next day (after winning the Masters), I realized my life was going to change when I flew from Augusta back to Toronto and I had little event at a Sears store there. As I was pulling around the corner in the car, I saw these people lined up and I thought, 'well, the Sears is not open yet,' and the person who was with me was an executive at Sears and he said 'they're lined up out the door to come and see you,'" Weir remembered.
"I thought, 'wow, this is a little bit different.' It did change quite a bit. My time was pulled in a lot of different directions, but it's been great. To be Canadian and win a tournament like that, and have that kind of support is unlike someone in the U.S. winning from XYZ city. We're a smaller country population wise and we really take to our athletes. For myself, I feel very fortunate to always have great support whether I was playing great or not playing so good."
The funds raised at the 11th annual Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive For Kids will be used to help purchase a $400,000 neonatal transport incubator.
"This is our most important piece of equipment," Allison Francheschina, manager of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Neonatal Transport Team.
The unit provides a closed, controlled environment that warms an infant by circulating heated air over the skin.
Helping purchase the transport incubator has particular significance for Rideau View because Rideau View director of instruction Matt Robinson and wife Dayna saw daughter Kathryn transported in one of the units.
Kathryn and twin sister Kristina were born prematurely after 28 weeks gestation in 2006. Kristina weighed two pounds, 15 ounces and Kathryn weighed one pound, 15 ounces.
"Kathryn was transported using one of these units and it really does hit home," Dayna said. "Looking at them both now, it really is a miracle and we're always happy to give back to CHEO."
Rideau View Golf Club's Director of Instruction Matt Robinson poses with the junior golfers who were on hand to launch the 2017 Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive For Kids at Rideau View on Tuesday. The tournament will be held Sept. 10-11 at Rideau View and the funds raised will be used to help purchase a $400,000 Neonatal Transport Incubator.
Matt has raised about $300,000 for CHEO through his annual Longest Day of Coaching.
"(The Mike Weir) Foundation has a mission to be golf's premier fundraising initiative to support children and children's health and it's raised $10 million for children's hospitals across Canada," Rideau View president Ron Jackson said. "Each year the foundation and Mike Weir give of their time and energy to assure that children receive the best care and benefit from world class research and facilities. Their support of CHEO for 2017 will make a tremendous difference."
CHEO Foundation president and CEO Kevin Keohane recalled watching Weir's life changing moment when he earned his PGA Tour card and the emotion Weir showed.
Keohane told Weir his event will inspire similar emotions for hundreds of families in Eastern Ontario.
"You are going to be helping to create for so many families in our region that moment of 'everything is going to be okay and my life is going to be different from this point on,'" Keohane said. "When it comes to talking about your children and your children's life and death situations and the equipment we're purchasing this year, it's truly going to do that."
There are sponsorship opportunities available for the 2017 Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive For Kids. Contact Vaia Dimas at the CHEO Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org
Itinerary for the 2017 Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids at Rideau View Golf Club
Junior Golf Tournament and BBQ
Sunday Cocktail Reception
Silent and Live Auction
Golf Clinic hosted by Mike Weir
Champion's Dinner: Wine, Dine and Design with Mike Weir