CALGARY, AB -- Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano has no problem going to great links to help the community.
Giordano teed off at the Calgary Italian Open at Pinebrook Golf and Country Club on Monday in support of his initiative, Team Giordano. This year's tournament raised $75,000 for the Team Giordano program.
“I can’t thank the Italian Open enough for the support,” Giordano said. “They’re a big part and a big reason why our charity is doing as well as it is. To come out here, have a round of golf, and get the support I do is huge.
“I can’t say enough about the people and the relationships I’ve built over the years. It’s gone a long way for our charity and making it what it is today.”
Since 2002, the golf tournament has raised over $475,000 in support of the Calgary Italian School, Calgary Italian Sportsmen's and Sportwomen’s Dinners, Inn from the Cold, Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada – West, Kids Help Phone, KidSport, Red Cross Alberta Flood Relief Fund, the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Center, and Team Giordano.
Team Giordano provides resources to four low-income Calgary schools to assist in meeting student needs and support personal development. Schools are provided with new computers, floor hockey equipment, school supplies, and student mentorship opportunities developed by Giordano and wife Lauren.
Since its inception, Team Giordano has donated $200,000 to its four schools, impacting the lives of 1,400 students.
“My wife and I are very passionate about getting involved with the Calgary School Board and helping out the kids,” said Giordano, who was named the recipient of the 2015-16 NHL Foundation Player Award presented annually to the player who applies the core values of hockey -- commitment, perseverance and teamwork -- to enrich the lives of people in his community.
“It started out really broad. We didn’t know specifically what each school needed so we went to the principals, superintendents, and going through the schools now I think the programs have come a long way. I enjoy it the most because I think the schools are getting the specifics they need. It would be easy to start a program where you build a playground or a gym for every school. Schools are basically telling us what they need and how they can be helped and we’re trying to accomplish that.”
Team Giordano isn’t the only initiative the Calgary Italian Open will support.
Funds from the tournament will also provide $15,000 to support relief efforts after the tragic earthquake in central Italy on Aug. 23.
“Both my parents were born in Italy … my dad further away where the earthquake was in Naples, but my mom for sure, grew up in a town outside of Rome,” Giordano said. “No family was affected, but it hits close.
“I’m happy that this tournament can help a little bit and hopefully provide something. It’s devastating. You look at the pictures on the news. It’s pretty tragic. We’re happy to be at this tournament in support of that.”