UPDATED WITH PICS/VIDEO: Langley golfers raise $52,500 for wildfire aid

Employees donated their own wages for the day to help.

by Matthew Claxton and Roxanne Hooper

High temperatures and hazy skies over Langley helped drive home the purpose of a wildfire relief golf tournament on Tuesday.

“Kind of helps the golfers relate to what the rest of the province is going through,” Redwoods Golf Course manager Doug Hawley said of the smoke-hazed skies. “It helps people realize just how close those fires are.”

Despite the smoky conditions, which were a direct result of the fires in the interior, 156 golfers were out in force at the Drive for Relief charity golf tournament held in north Langley Tuesday afternoon.

And that sold-out event helped secure more than $50,000 for fire relief.

The idea for the fundraiser came up about two weeks earlier, when Hawley – originally from northern B.C. – was mulling over ideas of how to help fellow British Columbians struggling with the effects of the wildfires.

“I was just going to be happy to fill the course with golfers,” he said. “But then others who weren’t able to golf – a lot of people – just started making donations,” he said.

Hawley had an initial goal of raising $35,000 for the Red Cross relief efforts – money to help out with everything from assisting temporarily displaced evacuees to helping fire victims rebuild.

But, much to his surprise, the tournament sold out in five days – including 150-plus for the golf and about 250 for the subsequent barbecue dinner. Those numebrs quickly shattered Hawley’s goal – much to his delight.

That’s when Hawley and his team went to work pulling together extras, like live entertainment and a 55-items silent auction.

“The silent auction, alone, raised more than $15,000,” Hawley said the morning after. Ultimately, that pushed the amount raised by Drive for Relief to $52,500 – with more donations still coming in.

The tournament was organized quickly by a motivated staff, he explained, noting a total of 55 employees also donated their day’s wages towards the fundraiser. Likewise, suppliers stepped up, donating items such as 260 steaks for the steak and salmon barbecue, while others sponsors the individual holes, and another provided the live entertainment.

“Everybody wanted to do something,” Hawley added. And they did.

“When you’re watching the news and B.C. is in a state of emergency, it hits pretty hard… we figured this was a way to help, and people seemed to be quick to jump aboard and want to be part of it.”

Overwhelmed with the overall outcome of the tournament, he described it as “a pretty good” event.

“We are so thankful for everyone who contributed to this awesome event… a great time raising over $50,000 for a great cause.”

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