By Dan Harrison
MIDDLETON — Last year at the first "Putts and Punches for Parkinson's" charity golf tournament hosted by Shawn Thornton and the Boston Bruins Foundation, $18,000 was raised for the American Parkinson Disease Association. That was just months after the Bruins gave up a three-game lead to the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Considering the draw of playing with Thornton and the Bruins Foundation this year, less than two months after the team hoisted its first Stanley Cup since 1972, it's no wonder the foursomes were all filled up as over 95 people packed onto the links at the Ferncroft Country Club yesterday despite less than desirable weather.
"I think we sold out the day after we won (the Stanley Cup)," said Thornton, who along with Erin McEvoy and the Boston Bruins Foundation, hosted the event for the second time. "Everyone was happy we pulled it off, and it's easier to have one of these after you win one. This town (Boston) has always supported us, even more so this year."
Thornton, who's grandmother suffered from Parkinson's disease, feels a tournament like this is something he can do to try and promote awareness about the disease.
"My grandmother had Parkinson's for the last 12 or 13 years (of her life), so it had touched me first hand," noted Thornton. "It's a very tough disease. I think anytime you can bring a little more awareness and attention to it, it's a positive thing. I'm doing what I can, the little bit that I can."
After 18 holes that saw intermittent rain showers, golfers were welcomed back to the clubhouse for cocktails, dinner and a silent auction featuring all different kinds of sports memorabilia from the four major sports teams in the area. There were framed, autographed photos, like the one of Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin after the centerman split the Lightning defense to juke Dwyane Roloson for a goal in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, or, of Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo with the word "ASSASSIN" just above his head. For golfers opening their wallets wide enough, there was a chance for a meet-and-greet with Red Sox players at batting practice.
"The Red Sox, Sarah McKenna, and Youk (Kevin Youkalis) and Papi (David Ortiz), put some nice stuff together. Those two guys are unbelievable. We have a little back-and-forth, I do some stuff over there," said Thornton. "It says a lot about the sports community in Boston. We respect each other and try and help each other out."
Members of the APDA Massachusetts chapter were on hand with information about Parkinson's disease, including vice president Robert Tullis. An avid Bruins fan who has Parkinson's, Tullis was excited to be on hand for the tournament and to see his favorite hockey team kiss the Cup earlier this summer.
"The weather didn't agree out there and people were getting wet, but having a good time. I think Shawn and the Bruins Foundation have done such an excellent job of helping the community in more ways than one. It's great to be invited and participate," said Tullis, who was in attendance with four other members of the APDA. "We all are Bruins fans. It was fantastic to see them win the cup, it put a little life back into the city of Boston."
Nurse coordinator Cathi Thomas was one of the other members of the APDA in attendance and she came with information on how the money raised at last year's tournament was put to use in order to help those suffering from Parkinson's disease and their families.
"One example of how this funding is put to use is that it funded a national rehabilitation advanced center of research at Sargent College at Boston University. It's a resource for people from all over the country to call in and learn about physical and occupational therapy.
We have had many programs for not only individuals with Parkinson's, but families. We train how to take care of the individual. Eighteen thousand dollars is extraordinary, and it really goes a long way in Massachusetts."