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Putts & Punches a Knockout

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
Middleton, MA – On Monday Bruins bruiser Shawn Thornton showed a more hospitable side when he hosted his first charity golf tournament “Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s” at the Ferncroft Country Club in Middleton.

Thornton, Rask and Lucic (Photo: Boston Bruins)
In the first of what he hopes will soon become an annual event, Thornton helped to raise nearly $12,000 for the Boston Bruins Foundation and aid in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease. The golf tournament featured several of Thornton’s teammates and Boston buddies as they came together on the links to fight the debilitating disease.

“My grandmother passed away, not the December that just passed but the December before, and she had Parkinson’s...long enough that it was very memorable for me,” said Thornton, when asked about how the idea for the charity event came to fruition. “For someone who had such a sharp mind as her it was tough to deal with, for sure.

"It hits home with me and I'm happy I can do a little bit to give back.”

The idea for the golf tournament to fight Parkinson’s disease had been in the works for a while, and when Thornton signed on to play with the Black & Gold for another two years, the plans were kick-started.

“I had approached Swoop [Bob Sweeney] earlier in the year about [starting the tournament],” said Thornton, whose brumble-style score of 64 was tops in the tournament.

“Once I got my [contract] extension then I really put the pedal down to get this thing going. Everything worked out really well and [the Foundation] did an incredible job to help me get this thing off the ground.”

The tournament just another way in which the Bruins aim to give back to the community any way they can. While Thornton’s day driving the fairways was a great event for everyone involved, the Boston Bruins Foundation strives to help all B’s players achieve the same success within the community.

“We try to support our players’ initiatives [to give back],” said former Bruins and Foundation Director Bob Sweeney.

Shawn has his sights set on Parkinson's. (Photo: Boston Bruins)
“Players approach us to help them out [with charities] and I think it’s important that our players are committed to [helping] the community and it’s great if we can support them.”

The Boston Bruins Foundation, which recently completed the Pan-Mass Challenge to help the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund, strives to be involved with as many charities as possible to raise awareness of the issues that most effect the Boston Bruins family.

“We want to be involved with as many charities as we can, especially ones that our players want to get involved in,” continued Sweeney. “We do numerous events throughout the year and it’s great to come here and get to play some golf and support our players and give back to the community any way we can.”

“Our players support our mission and guys like Shawn do a lot in the community and he has really reached out…and that says a lot.”

While the Bruins have a deep history with giving back to the community with players such as Milt Schmidt and Fernie Flaman, it is no surprise that Thornton isn’t the only player giving back to the Boston area recently.

For the sold-out golf tournament, Thornton was joined by fellow Bruins Tuukka Rask and Milan Lucic, who also hosted his own charity softball game and LeLacheur Park in Lowell on Friday.

“It was nice to see everyone come out and support us,” said Lucic about his event that benefited Health and Education Services of Massachusetts. “It was definitely an easy yes [when Thornton asked me to help out at his tournament].

"It’s the summertime and we have a lot of time off to take part in charity events and have opportunities to give back…so thankfully I'm in Boston to give back during his tournament.”

The busy day for Thornton and the Boston Bruins Foundation began with a lunch buffet for the participants in the tournament, during which they could bid on items in a silent auction, with all proceeds going to benefit the Foundation, including autographed Bruins jerseys, a helicopter tour around Boston for two and a meet-and-greet with Thornton.

After bidding on the auction items, the players and donors hit the fairways, which featured closest-to-the-hole, longest drive and hole-in-one competitions. The winners of the competitions received new Taylor-Made clubs for their efforts.

The golf got off to a booming start with Thornton blasting a drive, the longest of the day for any participant, onto the fifth fairway. Although the rules of the tournament granted No. 22 a free driver, in the true spirit of charity he gave the driver away to one of the donors to the Foundation.

After the players were done on the links for the day, the event was brought in the country club for a hearty dinner and a live auction featuring bidding on great items, including a Red Sox experience with David Ortiz and a guitar autographed by Bruce Springsteen and the entire E-Street Band.

While Thornton and Sweeney auctioned off the rest of the items for the Foundation, the fan-favorites from the B's kept the entire playing field in stitches with anecdotes and stories regarding the day, but never lost sight of the reason everyone had gathered.

“The support has been great,” Thornton said.

“Everyone I strong-armed from Charlestown really gave in and came out here,” he added with a laugh.

Thornton wrapped up the day by describing the attitude held by most players in the Black & Gold and the desire to give back to the community.

“Doing the charity stuff is easy,” he said. “There’s so many great people around town and [in the organization] that it’s really no trouble at all.

"It’s a pleasure.”

---Brian Smith
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