Just over a year and a half since their son died by suicide, Jason and Kimberley Bauer have helped raised over $29,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association Muskoka-Parry Sound (CMHAMPS) in his honour.
The McKenzie Bauer Golf Tournament was held at Windermere Golf and Country Club on Oct. 5, hosting 114 golfers and 138 dinner guests on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The event, which was first organized in 2018 by a friend of Jason and Kimberley, is a fundraiser created in honour of their son McKenzie, who died by suicide at the age of 26. Jason and Kimberley weren’t very involved in the first tournament since it was only a few months after McKenzie’s death, but this year, they took over and got McKenzie’s friends involved in the process. His friends assisted with the website and the creation of a custom trophy made out of McKenzie’s wake skate. This year’s total of over $29,000 exceeded expectations for the event.
Jason Bauer said that, especially being in Muskoka and surrounded by so much wealth, it meant a lot for him to see friends and locals that don’t have “extreme budgets” contributing to the cause.
“I walked around the tables just before I closed the auction, and there’s a few names that popped out that I know they’re not high rollers, but they bid the value of the item and that’s really rare. If you know anything about silent auctions, usually people try and get things at a discount,” he said. “It was very touching.”
Jackie Vincent, event coordinator and resource development coordinator for CMHAMPS, said the organization is thrilled with the success of the tournament, and the money will go toward filling an important gap in their services.
“Right now we are experiencing a shortfall in the service we can provide to those being discharged from hospital for a mental health or addiction issue,” Vincent said. “It is our hope that the money raised from the tournament will help us implement a brand new program which will allow us to hire peer support workers – workers who have personal experience in dealing with mental health and addiction issues.”
The workers will be on-call to provide support for clients who have recently been discharged from the hospital for a mental health and/or addiction-related admission. They will act as mentors to help clients readjust back into the community following their admission.
“A similar program has been implemented with great success in North Bay and our program is hoping to follow a similar format and has done extensive consultation with the providers of the North Bay program,” she said. “We are very excited to be able to add this much needed program to our full complement of services we offer.”
Jason said he’s glad to see the money go toward a much needed service and he looks forward to carrying on the tradition of the tournament in future years.
“I can’t do anything about the fact that McKenzie’s no longer with us,” Jason said. “I now have an opportunity to do something every year that makes me laugh, brings his friends together and does some good.”
The tournament, like holidays, create a bittersweet time for the Bauers who are still learning how to celebrate without a key member of the family. Moving forward, Jason said he looks forward to honouring the outgoing, business-minded son he misses everyday with an upbeat event aimed at helping others.
“It’s kind of going to be our new Christmas,” Bauer said. “It’s going to be hard, but there’s a lot of laughs and a lot of fun that comes out of this tournament.”