October 20, 2016 7:30 pm
Updated: October 21, 2016 12:43 am

Shaw Charity Classic eclipses $5 million in charity donations

WATCH ABOVE: Calgary's marquee golf tournament will deliver $5.2 Million to over 120 youth-based charities that will help over 300,000 children across Alberta. Gary Bobrovitz reports.

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The Shaw Charity Classic, the Champions Tour event for professional golfers over 50, smashed its previous record for charitable donations, announcing today that it raised $5.2 million for 124 youth-based charities.

It is the Calgary tournament’s fourth year of making record-setting charitable donations, which jumped from $4 million for the 2015 event. This year’s tournament was won by Carlos Franco, with past tournament winners including Jeff Maggert, Fred Couples and Rocco Mediate.

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“The Shaw Charity Classic has never lost focus of its core mission—to bring elite golf to Calgary for families to enjoy while raising significant money for youth in Alberta who need our support,” says Clay Riddell, chairman of the event and one of its founders.

The Shaw tournament has long been regarded as one of the most successful in professional golf.

Consider the Principal Charity Classic, one of the most highly regarded tournaments on the Champions Tour, raised just over US$2 million this year, making it a one of the top events on tour. Since its first year, the Shaw Charity Classic has raised $13.8 million for charity.

Sean Van Kesteren, the Shaw Charity Classic’s tournament director, says despite some struggles in the Alberta and Calgary market in recent years, the event has really connected with the community. The focus on children’s charities has helped engage the business community, and the money raised has assisted 615,000 kids, he adds.

“The success of the tournament has grown exponentially since it started and a lot of that has to do with the charities we’ve become involved with,” he says. “Our goal is simple—to bring the best golfers to Calgary and raise as much money as we can for charity. That’s what we’re always keeping our eyes on.”

Van Kesteren points to the Birdies for Kids program as helping push the Shaw Charity Classic to new levels of success. Launched in 2015, he says the program is the key for the rise in charitable growth. More than 1,600 people made donations to the program this year. Birdies for Kids gives individuals and corporations the opportunity to make a one-time or per-birdie donation, directed to the children’s charity of their choice. Those donations were further increased through a tiered matching program that saw a percentage of the first $250,000 donated to each charity.

Shaw Communications, who have been title sponsor since the tournament’s inception, announced in June it would make a commitment of $1 million to support two of the event’s key charities,The Alex, a Calgary community health centre, as well as Kids Help Phone. The Alex receive $700,000 to fund its youth-based programs and support construction and operation of its new foo centre, while Kids Help Phone received $300,000 to support BroTalk, a dedicated online support zone and referral service for young men.

Van Kesteren said the 2017 event will see a focus on the fifth anniversary of the tournament.

“We’ll have the best players back in Calgary and continue to focus on making this a family-friendly tournament,” he said.

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