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Tournament of Hope Golf Classic Comes Full Circle

Newspaper clipping

In the Beginning


In 1998, Randy Hepditch was the sole recipient from the very first Tournament of Hope. The money made at that golf tournament helped him to purchase a much needed accessible van. Before this, Randy was reliant on public transport and as Randy says “you can have no real independence using public transit”. Appointments you make, schools you choose, everything depends on whether or not accessible transportation is available.


Randy’s family understood the importance of the independence that comes with access to accessible transportation. While trying to help Randy with the purchase of an accessible van, they approached John Thompson from the local United Way. The United Way do a lot of great work in the community but their mandate is to help groups not individuals, so John offered to personally put a golf tournament together. That first tournament in 1998 sold out in a week and enough funds were raised to help Randy purchase his wheels.


Barriers to Freedom


Everyone knows that getting your first car equals freedom. Even an old, beat up clunker makes a new driver proud but things are not so straight forward when you are a driver with a disability. Randy uses a wheelchair; this means he is limited as to which type of vehicle he can purchase. It must accommodate his wheelchair. Randy is also a tall man. He is 6’3” so a minivan is not an option. He must purchase a full sized van and it is not the van itself that is costly. The modifications needed to make it accessible; to add the features that allow Randy do drive the vehicle himself, doubles the cost of the van. This year Randy is looking to buy another van. He hopes to purchase a used one since a new one with modifications would cost more than $80,000.


Randy has found a make and model that works for him but that model is no longer being made so now Randy has broadened his search for a used van, from regionally to nationally to all over North America. Simply finding a van that will work is a feat in itself.


Family Affair


Randy, his mother Linda and step-father Gerard have been committed to the Tournament of Hope. They have sat as committee members and volunteered at the event in many ways over many years. In fact, Gerard has been sitting on the committee since the very beginning and continues to donate his time and wisdom to the event.


Full Circle


This year, the tournament celebrates its 20th anniversary. When asked what it means to Randy and his family he says “never in a million years did we think this would blossom into what it has become. I did not imagine that we’d be able to raise as much as we have and help as many people as we have. It makes me proud of my community.”


The Tournament of Hope receives many funding requests throughout the year. A lot of people in our community cannot afford medical equipment and assistive devices that they need but that the government does not cover.  There are some funding assistance programs but there are more requested dollars than dollars available and so many people are denied. The Tournament of Hope helps people that find themselves in that position.  To be exact, the Tournament has helped 215 individuals purchase $480, 000 worth of equipment.


When the Tournament of Hope Selection Committee received Randy’s application for assistance with funding for another van in the fall of 2016,  it felt fitting that we not only approve his application for assistance, but that we ask him to be our featured recipient. Without Randy, his family and John Thompson, we would not be where we are today.  Two hundred and fourteen other people might not have the ramps, hearing aids, track lifts and special beds that they need.


Randy says " I feel blessed to have been chosen but it also feels kind of surreal because I can’t believe it’s been 20 years and I’m lucky to be able to use the Tournament again and still be able to drive because I still wanna go!”


Many Thanks


One of the reasons we are able to raise as much money as we do is because local business and individuals donate so much to the auction, because people take time out of their busy lives to golf and donate to the cause, because committee members work hard and because Grand Valley Golf Club gives the Tournament of Hope a great deal to hold the event. While it is true that the Tournament of Hope depends on many to happen, it is a labour of love and speaks to what a caring community we live in.


Let’s make 2017 our best year yet!

For more information about the Tournament of Hope, to register to golf or sponsor the event, please  click here.



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