Through much of his youth, Sam Stordy battled addictions.
“A message that I try and really communicate to people is that addiction doesn’t discriminate and it can affect anyone,” said the soft-spoken 27-year-old.
Stordy has worked as an executive peer counsellor at the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC) for the last three years.
“I ended up in here as a client in 2008, addicted to all sorts of different drugs,” Stordy said.
His addictions landed him at AARC on two different occasions.
Stordy credits his nearly four years of sobriety to the help he received there and praises programs like the Shaw Charity Classic’s (SCC) Birdies for Kids for supporting not-for-profits like AARC.
“AARC is privately funded, we receive no government help at the moment and it takes a lot,” Stordy said. “So it’s, it’s crucial, it’s more than crucial.”
WATCH: Women took over the fairways at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club Monday as part of the kickoff to the Shaw Charity Classic
AARC is one of more than 200 charities that has benefitted from the $34 million Birdies for Kids has raised over the last seven years.
“When Clay Riddell brought this tournament to Calgary in 2013, he was very focused on his two clear missions,” explained SCC spokesperson Chris Dornan. “One was to bring the best golfers in the world in a family-friendly environment. But number two was really to raise big money for youth-based charities in the province.”
Stordy is a success story, but his tale took a Cinderella-esque turn last month when he attended the annual Shaw Charity Classic Shoot-Out as a representative for AARC and quickly went from guest to participant.
‘We had one person that didn’t show up in the middle of the event and we needed a stand-in,” Dornan said, recalling how he turned to Stordy and asked if he could swing a club.
“I said, ‘Yeah, I can swing a club,'” Stordy said. “So I went up and swung the club and put it close and just kept doing it.”
A couple of hours later, Stordy was the belle of the ball, beating out former Calgary Flame Perry Berezan and unseating another former Flame and three-time champion Curtis Glencross.
In that moment, the enormity of how far he’d come was not lost on Stordy.
“From one end of the spectrum to, like, how bad life got for awhile to how high up on the mountains you can feel… it was a crazy experience for me,” he said.
And like all good fairytales, there was a lesson to be learned in this one.
“You work hard and just live honestly,” Stordy said. “Good things just seemed to start happening to me. I kind of live by the book a little bit, help others and I’m getting so many things in return. It’s unbelievable.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre.