MONTREAL - Phillip Danault loves his hometown of Victoriaville, and the people of Victoriaville love him right back.
On Thursday afternoon, 260 golfers hit the links at Victoriaville Golf Club in conjunction with the inaugural Phillip Danault Golf Classic, raising $42,000 to benefit a pair of local organizations - Le Centre de stimulation L'Envol - which helps children with developmental disabilities - and Le Pont vers l'autonomie foundation - the lone organization in Canada providing a robotic arm loan service to people affected by severe mobility problems.
"It's very special, especially this year because it's my first year organizing the event. It really touches me to be able to support these foundations, and I think giving back to the community is really important," said Danault, who also had teammates Max Pacioretty, Paul Byron and Michael McCarron on site to participate, along with good friend and summer training buddy, Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks. "L'Envol really focuses on helping kids with autism, and I got involved with Le Pont because I got to know a young boy who received a robotic arm. People who have limited mobility can't do everything they'd like to do in the community, so being able to help means a lot."
The turnout for the event meant the world to Danault. Although, he wasn't at all that surprised to see the community really step up to help out and show their support.
"That's Victoriaville. The people are very generous and welcoming. If I ever win a Cup one day, this is where I'm going to bring it," said Danault, prior to getting things started on the first tee with spectators, friends and family members aplenty looking on. "Victoriaville is my city. I've lived here since I was really young. It's really important for me to give back to this area."
Danault's father, Alain, is actually the general manager of the golf course, and he couldn't have been happier to see his son lead the charge to raise funds for such important local causes.
"People often say that hockey players are in another sphere, of sorts, but it's important to stay close to where you come from. If you've gotten far, it's because there were people behind you, a community," said Mr. Danault. "Phillip played his hockey here with the Victoriaville Tigres, so there are a lot of people who believed in him. Today, it's important to be involved in the community and to give back to these organizations. As a father, it makes me proud."