THUNDER BAY – One of Bill Mauro’s final acts in the mayor’s chair may also be one of his most impactful.
Mauro, who steps down from the seat on Oct. 4, three weeks ahead of the upcoming municipal election, on Friday was joined by dozens of other golfers at Strathcona Golf Course to take part in the Mayor’s Mulligan Tournament.
The annual event, postponed seven days because of last Friday’s torrential rains, is expected to raise about $20,000 for PRO Kids, an organization that provides sports and other extra-curricular activities opportunities to youth whose families might otherwise not be able to afford the cost.
“As you know, the population that is served by PRO Kids is a very needful group and there’s a long history with this tournament in helping marginalized populations take part in recreational sport and cultural activities in the city,” Mauro said.
“We’ve got a big group here today. We’ve got a beautiful day to play and we’ve got a great community sponsor in Enbridge who has really made a difference in terms of what we’re going to be able to achieve financially through the tournament.”
Mauro, who grew up playing sports of all kinds, spoke to the impact of taking part in hockey, baseball, golf, or swimming and what it can mean for children later in life.
“People at my age, when they reflect on it, I think a lot of the skills that we earned and learned, a lot of the life-long friendships that were formed… It’s hard to really quantify what we can gain by being part of teams when you’re young. I don’t think you really realize it at the time, but you certainly do as you age,” Mauro said.
“This may give some of those opportunities to the young kids in our community.”
PRO Kids executive director Laura Daniele said the tournament is a fun way to raise money for her organization, which is an arms-length department of the City of Thunder Bay.
The Mayor’s Mulligan is one of PRO Kids’ biggest fundraisers each year, she added.
“We’re always thankful for the mayor for designating this to kids,” Daniele said. “Obviously the money that we raise goes directly into PRO Kids and into community programs. This money is used for your local hockey teams, your swimming, your soccer and baseball – all the activities that are out there, along with arts and cultural programs,” Daniele said.
“We do receive invoices from these organizations in order to pay for the kids to get into the programs, and we use this money to do that.”
More than 25,000 youth have been helped through PRO Kids, which was founded in 1998.
Nicole Lehto, director for Northern Region operations at Enbridge, called it critical for children and youth to have access to activities.
“Supporting PRO Kids is a way for Enbridge to do this,” Lehto said.