It’s almost that time of year again for Donnie’s Annual Open Golf Tournament.
The tournament, which was started by young Donnie Andriashyk when he was just 9-years-old, is going into its sixth year and has grown from three participants in 2015 to about 30 last year.
“This little tournament has grown and grown and it’s for such a good cause they wanted it to continue,” said Pam Grandmaison, co-owner of Wells Gray Golf Resort and RV Park, where the tournament takes place.
All proceeds of the event go to the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, with last year’s event raising $1,600 for the charity.
According to Donnie’s grandmother, Kathryn Andriashyk, it all started in the summer of 2013 when Donnie was 7-years-old and his grandpa Brian signed him up for a kid’s Tim Bit Golf Camp at a golf course in his hometown of Kamloops.
This sparked his interest in the sport so his grandpa sawed down an old set of clubs to make them a good length for Donnie to use and that same summer his grandparents brought him to the Wells Gray Golf Resort and RV Park to camp for a few days; Donnie’s love for golf grew even more.
“Every morning he would be up early and over to the office to pay a visit to Pam but not before he had already taken his clubs and walked the course playing eight holes before Grandpa was even up,” said Kathryn, in a letter to the Times.
“He could only do eight holes as we had made a rule that he could go out before us in the morning under the condition that he didn’t go alone on the 9th hole where he couldn’t be seen just in case there is a bear up there.”
Donnie’s trips to the golf resort became a yearly tradition and in the summer of 2015 he decided he wanted to start up a tournament.
After clearing it with resort owners Pam and Neil he went ahead, though nobody could have anticipated the young golfer’s determination but Neil told him if he could get some people to join the tournament he would donate a cool $20 as a prize.
After telling his grandpa, his grandpa pitched in another $10 for prize money.
“Donnie started canvassing all of the other people camping at the golf course during the next couple of days. However, with no advance planning the turnout that first year only resulted in one other person showing up to join in with Grandpa and Donnie,” said Kathryn.
“That didn’t squash his determination though and the three of them had a great game of golf together.”
The following summer Donnie was just as gung-ho as ever to keep the tournament going, but again with no prior planning, Pam and Neil and some of the grounds staff decided to join in to round out the competition.
Pam and Donnie’s grandpa donated a few prizes and the headcount increased to nine people that year, making Donnie happy as ever and more determined to keep the event going the next year.
In 2017 Pam and Neil suggested getting the word out ahead of time and turning the tournament into the fundraiser it’s become today.
“Doug Richardson, who was at the resort for the summer, donated a nice set of men’s gently used clubs as a prize and he offered to be MC the day of the tournament,” said Kathryn.
“He also organized a Deuce Hole to add to the funds raised. Donnie was very pleased with the new direction and interest his annual tournament had taken.”
There were about 15 participants that year and $500 was raised for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
When the summer of 2018 rolled around Donnie had not lost any drive to keep the event going and was able to raise $1,300 for the charity, but by last year a lot had changed for Donnie and his family as they decided they’d be moving to White Horse, Yukon.
Donnie’s mother also had another child, giving Donnie the baby brother he’d been wishing for for years.
“In October they were blessed with a beautiful little baby boy, Dylan — a little brother for Donnie. Unfortunately, Dylan was born with a very rare genetic disorder called Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis (CIPA),” said Kathryn.
“He has spent many days of his short life already in BC Children’s Hospital and will need to be under their care for many years to come, so how ironic it is that Donnie has his annual golf tournament as a fundraiser for the very hospital that will be providing care for his baby brother.”
This year due to COVID-19 precautions Donnie and his family won’t be able to make it, as many of them are immune-compromised, but Pam and Neil from the resort decided to go ahead with the event in their absence.
For those who want to take part this year, the tournament is being held on Aug. 2 with registration beginning at 10 a.m. and play beginning at noon. The Wells Gray Golf Resort and RV Park is located at 6624 Clearwater Valley Rd.