Celebs kick off SPCA charity event

Matt Gardner
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The fifth and final Fore For Pets Celebrity Golf Tournament kicked off on Wednesday with a celebrity meet-and-greet at the Prince Albert Inn.

Among the 20 assembled luminaries were veterans of the sports and entertainment worlds, all seeking to help raise money for the new Prince Albert SPCA’s new shelter through the tournament.

Some celebrities were attending the charity tournament for the first time, while others counted themselves as repeat participants.

Among the latter was golf pro Stuart Anderson, who was attending for the fourth straight year and visited the new SPCA shelter earlier in the day.

“It’s amazing,” he said of the facility. “You just walk in and you see the cats to the right there -- it just looks so comfortable and so peaceful, where the old shelter, it was very sad.

“In a lot of places that building would have been condemned … It was sad to see. I’m a dog owner myself and they’re part of your family, and to see them struggle like they were in the old shelter was just sad.”

A love for animals was a common denominator among the celebrity guests.

Playboy cover model Jessica Canizales recalled first hearing about a “charity event for pets” through a fellow Playmate.

She described her decision to take part in the Fore For Pets tournament as a no-brainer.

“I was like, ‘Of course! My favourite thing ever,’” Canizales said.

“I just love animals … They’re just like unconditional love,” she added. “You just want to hang out with them … One hour you come home and then you just feel like they haven’t seen me in five years. It’s amazing having them around.”

For actress Kristen Renton -- who currently has a recurring role on Sons of Anarchy as Ima -- the tournament helped further a cause that had always been near and dear to her heart.

“I am a huge animal rights supporter, animal advocate,” Renton said. “I have a radio show back in L.A. discussing animal issues … So the fact that this benefits the SPCA, that’s a passion very close to my heart -- that’s what got me here the first year.”

If the prospect of helping animals attracted Renton to the event initially, it was the people she met that kept her coming back for repeat appearances.

“I have so much fun every year,” the actress said. “I look forward to seeing the same faces and we just have a blast. We just have a ball. We go out and get goofy and it’s all for a good cause.”

Many of the celebrity attendees echo her sentiments, golf tournament chair Loren Sproat noted.

“Through the years, all the entertainers that have come, we’ve always covered their cost and that type of thing as far as flights and associated costs,” he said.

“But they come because of the cause. That’s the whole focus on it.”

The presence of Miss Canada International 2014 Alyssa MacLeod, who is currently on tour as part of the Canada’s Team of Inspirational Young Women scholarship, underscored another element of the tournament’s success.

We just have a ball. We go out and get goofy and it’s all for a good cause. Kristen Renton

Like the other celebrity guests, MacLeod has long had a soft spot for animals.

“I have a dog and a cat at home and every member of my family has a cat or a dog, so I’m definitely an animal lover for sure,” she said.

As one of 13 young women selected for the scholarship, MacLeod tours the country discussing anti-bullying as well as her own personal platform, entitled “The Power of Perseverence.”

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was two months old, MacLeod’s parents were told she would never be able to walk.

But after using a walker for some time, then leg braces, and undergoing several operations, by age 12 MacLeod was able to walk unassisted.

Graduating from Cape Breton University with degrees in science and French, the 23-year-old is currently taking a year off before returning to school to pursue a career in medicine.

“Basically I’m going to travel across Canada to bring awareness to basically state that people with disabilities don’t really have to change their goals just because they have a disability -- they can still accomplish their goals and be as successful as anybody else,” MacLeod said.

Similarly, the “power of perseverance” has been a crucial element throughout the history of the Fore For Pets Tournament and SPCA fundraising efforts.

Sproat noted that the event had always seen a high level of support.

“It is one of the more high-profile tournaments in the province and especially in Prince Albert,” he said. “It reflects it in the cost to put a team in,” which ranges from $2,000 to $2,500 for a team of four.

Now, with the golf tournament finally reaching the end of its planned five-year lifespan, Sproat has some ideas on how to continue fundraising for the SPCA, such as a fall banquet that could also attract celebrities concerned for animal welfare.

A new committee to plan future events may rise from the ashes of the golf tournament committee, he suggested.

“I think that’s something that they’ll look at in the future,” Sproat said. “Like I say, everything has an end date and this one is so hugely successful all those years … a lot of other tournaments have fed off of it.”

He added, “I think it’s raised the bar with events and tournaments and how to make them fun … Keep an eye out for the years to come and we’ll figure out what we can do (that’s) interesting for the future.”

The Fore For Pets tournament continues on Thursday at Cooke Municipal Golf Course.

See also:

Celebrities hitting links for final SPCA charity golf tournament

Organizations: Fore For Pets, Cape Breton University

Geographic location: Canada, L.A.

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