By Dan Rankin
There were 36 teams out at the St. Marys Golf and Country Club last Friday for this year’s Brain & Mind Matters (BAMM) Golf Tournament, which has been held the past three years to raise money for the Staffen family’s BAMM Community Fund through the Stratford Perth Community Foundation.
In 2013, the year after Rob Staffen suffered a brain injury while cycling in California, the family established the fund to provide a lasting funding resource for outpatient care focused on local brain injury and mental health programs and projects.
In 2014, the first BAMM charity golf tournament was held to raise awareness about mental health issues, break down the stigma associated with them, and raise money for the fund. Combined with the donations from the events in 2014 and 2015, and the $135,000 raised at this year’s tournament, a total of $405,000 was raised to support mental health programs and traumatic brain injury treatment in Stratford, St. Marys and Huron and Perth Counties.
“We need to get more people into these programs,” Rob Staffen said, addressing the post-tournament banquet Friday evening.
“We’ve been absolutely thrilled with the response from our friends, neighbours, colleagues and the community,” said Sharon Staffen. “We could not have done this without our many fantastic volunteers, sponsors and golf participants.”
The BAMM Community Fund began granting dollars back out to mental health and brain injury projects last year. “We were so excited to announce our inaugural grants,” Matt Staffen said. “In partnership with the Cowan Foundation and St. Marys Memorial Hospital Foundation we granted $25,500 to the St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation for developing a new ‘brain injury points system’ app and another $5,000 to the Huron Perth Centre for Children & Youth for their youth suicide prevention program.”
This year, the BAMM Community Fund granted another $20,000 to the following initiatives: $5,000 to the Leading Mentally Healthy Schools Team for the Herons Care Wellness Space (also known as The Nest) at Little Falls Public School in St. Marys, $2,000 to the Stratford Police Services for the Road to Mental Readiness Training Program, $5,000 to United Way Perth-Huron’s Crossing Bridges Program and $8,000 to the McIntosh Sports Performance and Rehab Project to implement baseline concussion testing in local schools.
“We continue to be inspired by the Staffen family’s passion for these causes,” said SPCF executive director Tracy Van Kalsbeek. “To have raised over $400,000 to support mental health and brain injury initiatives in only three years is truly amazing! They are building a lasting legacy that will help break down barriers and make a real difference in the lives of so many.”
Keynote speaker at the banquet Friday was Alex Tilley, the retired Canadian inventor behind the Tilley outdoor recreation hat. He spoke about his struggles with memory loss due to a brain injury suffered after being struck by a car at age 12. Throughout his life, he has had a particularly tough time when it comes to remembering peoples’ names and faces – even those he has met many times before.
“When I explain people my problems, they say, ‘yes, Alex, you told us that last time’,” said Tilley with a laugh. “Another of the challenges of having a less-than stellar memory is the fact that I can’t tell fibs. How would I remember that I’ve lied?”
But all that didn’t stop him from studying business and turning his company, Tilley Endurables, into an internationally-respected manufacturer of high-quality recreational garments.
Thanking Tilley for his time, event co-emcee Julia Staffen quipped, “Thanks, Alex. I know you won’t remember it, but we will.”
Donations to the Brain & Mind Matters Community Fund can be made by visiting spccf.ca and clicking on ‘Donate Now.’