October 23, 2023
RICHMOND, BC (PGA of BC) - The Golfathon for ALS, an initiative spearheaded by PGA of BC professionals and the ALS Society of BC, completed another immensely successful year, with the total raised to date reaching an incredible $2.8 million. Seymour Golf & Country Club, under the leadership of Head Professional Dale Schienbein, has shown a remarkable dedication to the program and developed a culture of generosity and giving back amongst its members.
Schienbein was drawn to the cause immediately. In 2006, he began to participate in the initiative, which sees golf professionals play from dawn to dusk to raise donations for the ALS Society of BC. After 18 years of commitment to the cause, the club’s impact only continues to grow. Scheinbein said he was inspired to take part after witnessing his childhood Sunday School teacher succumb to the terrible disease.
“Our family went to a church in Regina, where I grew up. There was a fellow who taught Sunday School there, he was always a very friendly, pleasant person. One day, I showed up and he was walking with a cane. Through the eyes of a young child, it felt like the next day he was struggling to get around, the next day he was in a wheelchair, and then I didn’t see him again. It had an impact that stayed with me.”
Driven by Schienbein's dedication and support for the ALS Society, Seymour Golf & Country Club raised over $64,000 in 2023! Over the course of 18 years, the club has managed to raise a whopping $470,000. This funding goes towards several supports. The Equipment Loan program provides mobility equipment, lift equipment, beds & accessories, communication devices, and bathroom aids if needed. All equipment loaned is available at no charge to registered ALS patient members. Money raised also goes towards: support groups; psychological treatment services; Camp Alohi Lani, a youth summer camp for those with relatives living with ALS; and PROJECT HOPE, which raises money to fund an ALS research centre at UBC, where groundbreaking clinical trials can be conducted in pursuit of a cure.
Schienbein said the cause holds great significance to the club’s members, many of whom have been impacted by ALS personally.
“It’s a charity that seems to resonate with a lot of members when I send out the call. I know several members who the disease has touched in some way or another: friends, family, coworkers. It’s a way for them to contribute to and to honour those that they know with ALS,” said Schienbein. “We’ve had a couple members who have passed away from ALS. I remember walking up to the short game practice area one day to talk to a member. As we were talking, he actually staggered and I had to almost catch him. He told me ‘I was just diagnosed yesterday.’ We both had tears in our eyes, and I just couldn’t imagine what it would be like to hear that diagnosis.”
Schienbein added that it is important to maintain perspective in our own lives and to remember how fortunate most of us are not to be afflicted with health concerns.
“When you have your health, you have pretty much everything. Throw in family and friends, and you’re pretty wealthy at that stage. For us to make a living playing a game we love, we’re so fortunate. It’s easy to forget that, but I try to keep that in mind and remember that there’s so many people out there who we can help.”
Lenny Cyr is a Professional at Seymour Golf & Country Club and Vice President of the PGA of BC. He has golfed alongside Schienbein to raise money and awareness for the last 17 years.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had some members, their spouses and close family members pass from ALS. There’s some deep ties to this disease. We have people that value supporting this cause as it’s close to them. There’s not many people out there who haven’t been affected by ALS. It’s very sad, but it’s also hopeful to see such awesome support.”
Cyr pointed to a memory that really stuck with him and inspires him to continue his commitment to the cause.
“We had a member, Mrs. Calder, who lost her husband to ALS. She used to arrive at the golf course at 4:30 in the morning and return at 9:30 in the evening to see us finish up. That kind of hit home to me, that what we’re doing is special to her and to all the people affected by ALS,” said Cyr. “It means a heck of a lot to me because I’ve been around people that have been affected by it in the worst way.”
Schienbein’s leadership and dedication to the cause has been a key driver behind the club’s successful fundraising efforts, said Cyr.
“I think it’s remarkable how much work and time and effort Dale has put into this over the years. I think, when he looks back, when his career is over, this will be at the top of the list of things that will be remembered and will solidify his legacy,” said Cyr. “He’s built an incredible legacy here at Seymour. I don’t see this relationship with the ALS Society and support by the Club going anywhere. We’re going to continue to grow and support them and bring awareness to this terrible disease. I applaud him and how much energy and compassion that he’s put into building what he has built here. He’s the engine behind it all.”
The initiative continues to grow year over year, with 45 golf facilities across the province participating this season. More and more opportunities exist for facilities to get involved. For example, Victoria’s Iron & Wood Golf Simulators hosted a 24-hour Golfathon with professionals from all over Vancouver Island.
“I would encourage any PGA member facility to get involved with it, because it truly is amazing,” said Cyr. “We are able to make a difference in people’s lives doing what we love to do. That’s a pretty cool, special feeling.”
To donate to the ALS Society of BC, please click here.