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A day of golf links team to community, for a good cause

19th annual Charity Golf Classic raises more than $700,000 for Jays Care Foundation

It was one of those days that you wait for all winter. Waking up early, grabbing the clubs and hitting the road with friends in anticipation of a day of golf on one of the GTA's premier courses. Eighty foursomes arrived at The Club at Bond Head in Beeton, Ontario, early Monday morning, registered, and had a quick bite to eat before heading out for 18 holes. It would have been a great day had it been left at that -- and all this was before the arrival of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 19th annual Charity Golf Classic, presented by Samsung, Cisco, Ericsson and Rogers, held in support of Jays Care Foundation, was a unique and exclusive opportunity for fans across Canada to mingle -- and head out on the course with -- Blue Jays players, coaches and management. It's the kind of opportunity that Blue Jays fans, and many golfers, could only ever dream of.

"This event gives the fans a chance to interact with the players," said Paul Beeston, the Blue Jays' and Rogers Centre CEO, and Jays Care board member. "Players do it, they do it with a smile and they have a lot of fun at events like this."

"Jays Care Foundation gives the team an opportunity to give back to the communities across Canada. We realize that we have a social responsibility that must be taken seriously -- that has been impressed upon our players and their efforts help ensure the necessary funds are driven towards Jays Care."

After breakfast, guests received their complimentary Level On Headphones, courtesy of Samsung, and perused the silent auction before making their way outside, where foursome captains drew for the chance to have a Blue Jay join their group on the course.

"To see everyone [on the team] in a different element is going to be special for the fans," says Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen. "Not that we're always serious, but they get to see a different side of people that you wouldn't get to typically see."

"A fund-raising event like this can impact so many lives and the dollars that are raised here are going to kids across Canada. This is a great opportunity for not only us as players, but for the whole organization, to give back to the communities that support us and help make an impact on the children of Canada."

Fans and Blue Jays headed out on both courses at The Club at Bond Head, where they not only played their round, but also enjoyed a number of activities and product samples. Golfers were treated to a trick-shot expo by Todd Keirstead from Golf With Attitude, samples from both Bicardi Rum and Mombacho Cigars, and a barbecue lunch complete with cold treats from My Perfect Party.

It wasn't just current Blue Jays players who attended the event -- legendary Jays of years past, including "Shaker" Lloyd Moseby, two-time World Series-winning manager Cito Gaston, Carlos Delgado, George Bell, Devon White and Alex Gonzalez, among others, made their way north on Highway 400 to join their successors, and their fans, in supporting Jays Care.

"I'm not a golfer," said Delgado, a two-time All-Star and Blue Jays Level of Excellence member. "But I wanted to participate and spend some time with the people who have come out to support a good cause. As a member of the Blue Jays family, it's a pleasure to come out and be here for the day. Events like this are good for team bonding, too -- it's a great event for a great cause and I know the guys are more than happy to come out for a change of scenery."

Following their round of 18, fans and players reconvened in the clubhouse, where they continued to bid on silent auction items, received their foursome prizes and took advantage of one last opportunity to chat and take pictures with Blue Jays players.

"We're always proud to help support Jays Care Foundation," said Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista shortly before the team bus departed for Detroit. "They do a lot of great things across Canada and any time we can give back to them, we try to get involved."

"The 19th annual Charity Golf Classic was a tremendous success," said Danielle Bedasse, Jays Care Foundation executive director. "In one day, we were able to raise over $700,000 to support kids and communities from coast to coast. This is largely due in part to the support shown by all members of the Blue Jays family and we are thrilled to have been able to provide such a unique and memorable experience for many of our strongest donors and supporters."

Matt Warner is a contributor to

Toronto Blue Jays