The Staal brothers have always been generous with their time.
They’ve been a staple at charity events, like next week’s Easter Seals Skate with the Stars, for years. But Eric, the oldest of the family’s hockey-playing foursome, knew they wanted to do more.
Late last year they settled on setting up the Staal Family Foundation, a charitable venture they hope will raise money to help support pediatric cancer research.
“It’s kind of a real launching pad for us,” said Eric, the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, following Monday’s opening ceremonies for this week’s Staal Foundation Open, the PGA Tour Canada event the brothers chose to lend their famous names.
“We’ve talked about starting our foundation for a number of years. You’re trying to establish yourself in the NHL, you’re trying to focus on your playing and your career. A lot of that is narrowly focused and selfish, but it was always something that we were dreaming of wanting to do.”
It’s been a long process, he added.
Starting a charitable foundation involves plenty of red tape. There’s the little things, from the developing the logo to choosing charity partners.
“It’s a lot of different ideas. You have three brothers, parents and all our wives. There’s a lot of opinions and it takes time. So we wanted to make sure we did it right when we did it,” he said. “Cancer is something that affects probably everybody at some point in your life, especially children that are fighting cancer.”
Younger brother Marc, fresh off his first trip to the Stanley Cup final, where his New York Rangers fell in five games to the Los Angeles Kings, said it was a no-brainer to get involved, both in the foundation and to help support the tournament.
“We were kind of kicking tires for a long time of what our event, at least once a year was going to be to try to raise money,” Marc said.
“We had a conversation with my dad. My dad brought it to us about heading up a PGA Tour Canada (event) and coming to Whitewater. For us it was a great opportunity and kind of went hand in hand.”
Father Henry couldn’t be more proud of sons Eric, Marc, Jordan and Jared.
It wasn’t easy.
“There was a lot of text messaging, a lot of emails, because they were playing. But they were very committed to it, they are committed to their hometown and we’re very proud of it, that they want to give something back,” Henry said. “It’s kind of the way they were brought up, but a credit to them.”
The celebrity pro-am is scheduled for Monday. The regular pro-am goes Tuesday, with the tournament scheduled to begin Thursday morning at Whitewater Golf Course.