Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

TEEING OFF - Sharleen Clarke make a drive during the Special Olympics Yukon Golf Gala 2020 at the Meadow Lake Golf club.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

GOING FOR THE PIN - Mike Paré, president of Special Olympics Yukon, chips as his party watches. Sharleen Clarke, Joanne Paré Mike and Russ Smoler are seen left-right.

Golf Gala raises $13,000 for Special Olympics Yukon

The Whitehorse Toyota and Meadow Lakes Golf Club presented the Special Olympics Golf Gala 2020 last Saturday.

By John Tonin on September 3, 2020

The Whitehorse Toyota and Meadow Lakes Golf Club presented the Special Olympics Golf Gala 2020 last Saturday.

It was the 20th rendition of the tournament and is one of Special Olympics Yukon’s largest fundraisers outside of the Festival Dinner Auction.

To be able to host the Golf Gala during the COVID-19 pandemic, Special Olympics Yukon had to make alterations to its usual format to comply with pandemic guidelines and protocols – when the Golf Gala was in its planning stages the Yukon was still in Phase 2.

The traditional format for the Golf Gala was a 16-team, nine-hole shotgun start.

The 20th year used tee times. Twenty-four teams, 96 golfers, were registered and left to play their rounds in 10-minute intervals.

“It went really well,” said Serge Michaud, Special Olympics Yukon’s executive director. “We hit our fundraising target of $13,000, which is in line with past Golf Galas.”

Michaud told the Star before the Gala that Special Olympics Yukon wants to hold quality events for the community without forsaking the health and safety of people.

“Fundraising during a pandemic is not easy,” said Michaud. “It was a bonus that we could hold an event. We tried to make the best plan we could while planning for the worst.

“We are so very lucky and we owe it to the Special Olympic Yukon staff. Since the pandemic began, we’ve always taken the approach of what can we do, instead of what can’t we do.”

In a spring and summer where many events, sporting or otherwise, were cancelled, Michaud said the community was excited to be out and playing.

“People were just so happy to be in a golf tournament,” said Michaud.

“ It went off without a hitch. We had nothing to gauge it on. We didn’t know what to expect; this was unprecedented for us.”

Along with changing the tee-time format, the Golf Gala was not able to hold its barbecue and had to change its prize structure. The popular marshmallow drive was still able to happen.

Despite all the changes, Michaud said all the golfers were respectful of the changes and the COVID-19 safety measures.

“We were pleasantly surprised with how it flowed,” said Michaud.

“There were never more than three or four people at the table or at the tee. There were very few times we had to prompt people.”

When Michaud spoke to the Star prior to the Golf Gala, he said he hopes they can return to the traditional format in future years, but will remain open.

“We hope to go back to that format next year, but maybe we will like the format this year,” said Michaud. “It is not about what I like, it’s about the golfers.”

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