John Sass wasn’t going to miss one of his favorite days of the year.
The vice president and chief creative officer at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company had participated in the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation Golf Classic a few times before today given the company’s long-term partnership with the Blue Jackets, but that doesn’t mean the event gets any less special each year.
“I tell you, there are few events around Central Ohio and few golf courses that you want to play more than playing in this Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation outing at Double Eagle,” he said Tuesday. “Every year, this event is so top-notch from a variety of perspectives. The players are great, the environment is second to none, and it’s definitely one of those dates I circle and I make sure to clear the calendar to be able to play.”
The event has become an unofficial part of the kickoff for the CBJ season, not to mention one of the largest fundraisers of the year for the foundation. The mission to support health and wellness initiatives for the children of Central Ohio — which has included the donation of nearly $12 million in grants since the foundation’s Inception — begins with events like today.
“It’s a great day, and everyone is here to support a great cause,” said Andee Cochren, the newly appointed executive director of the CBJ Foundation. “This event really helps us drive meaningful change in Central Ohio in youth health and wellness.”
And events like these don’t happen without plenty of support from not just corporate partners but the team’s hockey operations staff and players. Twenty-five players, staff and alumni as well as head Coach Brad Larsen spent the day before training camp taking part, including new signing Johnny Gaudreau.
While the Winger joked that Double Eagle likely wasn’t happy with him tearing up the course, it was clear that Gaudreau — who hosts his own annual golf outing raising money for Scholarships each summer in his native New Jersey — was enjoying himself a day before his first training camp with the Blue Jackets.
“It’s awesome,” Gaudreau said. “Obviously it’s a lot of fun for us, but when you know it’s going to a really good cause, it’s important. You want to try to Donate as much as you can. You are having a good time out here, and ultimately you are doing it for a good cause.”
Gaudreau’s group was unable to finish in the money among the 26 that hit the course that day. While noted golf fanatic Gustav Nyquist is the team’s best golfer — he submitted a plus-1.9 Handicap — and such names as Jake Bean (1) and Patrick Laine (1.9) can certainly hit the ball, Jack Roslovic went first in the player draft and the Meyers Jewelers team featuring Elvis Merzlikins emerged as the champion.
Bill Stemm, vice president of on-premise sales at G&J Pepsi, returned to the event yet again and said that while the golf was fun, the personal nature of the time spent with players and coaches is one of the highlights of the event.
“You know you’re supporting a really good cause, but then the opportunity to play with players and spend time (stands out),” Stemm said. “Last year it was Patrik Laine, and just had a wonderful time. Not only that, they bail you out with their golf game.”
Each of the teams and corporate partners involved not only got to take part in a great event, they also supported a great cause, said Jim Capuano, chief executive officer of Horizon Telecommunications.
“We have been doing a lot of work with the Blue Jackets on the charitable side, so it’s something that is important to our company as well,” Capuano said. “It’s great to be involved.”