BostonBruins.com - During the offseason, Bruins players spend some time playing golf, relaxing and having fun. For four years, Bruins forward Shawn Thornton has hosted an annual golf tournament at Ferncroft Country Club that gives Bruins players, celebrities and fans the opportunity to hit the links for fun and a great cause.
This year, Putts & Punches for Parkinson’s is raising funds for The Shawn Thornton Foundation, the American Parkinson Disease Association, and the Boston Bruins Foundation. Support for this event has grown yearly as awareness about this important cause has spurred more involvement by donors, celebrities and golfers alike.
“It’s getting bigger and bigger every year,” smiled Thornton, reflecting on how much the event has grown. “It’s obviously the biggest year yet. Called in some favors to get some more people, a couple more celebrities.”
“It’s been good, a lot of people - I think that every year I’m surprised with how involved people want to be with the event.”
Thornton started this tournament in memory of his grandmother who suffered from Parkinson’s disease for fourteen years and was an important role model for him in his life.
“This means a lot to me,” said Thornton. “It’s pretty close to my heart. I’m glad to see it’s having success.”
One of the reasons that the event has been successful is the involvement from Thornton's teammates, which includes Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and forward Daniel Paille. They both have seen how important this event is to Thornton and were glad to lend support for their teammate.
“Boston’s the kind of city that it makes you want to do things like this,” said Rask.
“You meet a lot of good people. You make new contacts. Shawn’s done a great job of that over the years. He’s set up this Foundation and these tournaments just show that he wants to give back to the community and for the people here. I think it’s a great example for us.”
In addition to Bruins players, other local celebrities also came out to support Thornton in his endeavor.
“It means a lot to me,” said Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman about participating in this event. “I like Shawn a lot; he’s really, really nice. I met him back in December at David Ortiz’s event. It’s exciting. I love Boston sports so I’m always excited to support them.”
In addition to playing 18 holes of golf, celebrities also participate in a long drive competition.
Participants included Thornton, Rask and Paille, as well as Raisman, former Bruins Tom Songin and Bob Sweeney, and former Patriots tight end Jermaine Wiggins.
James Driscoll, a PGA tour player, narrowly beat out Daniel Paille for the longest drive in the competition.
To conclude the day, every golfer is invited to a cocktail reception, dinner, awards and an auction. All of the proceeds go directly to the three organizations that the golf tournament benefits.
Giving back to the community with events such as these are what Bruins fans have come to expect from Thornton. A day of fun, meeting new people and raising money for an important cause has led the B's forward to continue hosting this event.
“A lot of people do a lot of things for me throughout the year,” said Thornton. “This is actually a pretty fun one for me. Get to come out on a nice day hopefully and golf and see a lot of good people.”
“For the most part, I think for all four years I pretty much know everyone that’s playing in the tournament, people that I have been involved with in the community for the last four years. So I like doing this.”
---Written by John Morton for BostonBruins.com