2019 CiC Golf Has Touch of Ireland

November 6, 2019 in News

HUNTINGTON, NY, October 3, 2019  –  The 17th Annual Companions in Courage Foundation Golf Classic was played in an “Irish Mist.” That inspired Huntington Country Club Pro Jim Smoot to announce, “Gentlemen. People pay a lot of money to go to Scotland to play in weather like this. We’re throwing it in today for free!”

Undaunted, more than 120 golfers teed it up in support of pediatric patients and their families who benefit from the work of the Companions in Courage Foundation. Host Pat LaFontaine was joined by former teammates, Clark Gillies and Bob Nystrom. Hockey’s Eddie Westfall, Benoit Hogue and Pat Jablonski led a host of other celebrities that included the NBA’s Wally Szczerbiak, the NFL’s Marty Lyons, and soccer star Mike Grella.

Michigan artist Paul Madden spent the day completing a commemorative original drawing featuring LaFontaine in front of the U.S. Capital surrounded by youth hockey players. The hockey star was recently elected to the President’s Council on Youth Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.

LaFontaine recognized Westfall – the team’s first captain – for being an underrated contributor to the team’s legacy. He said that Westfall brought the Boston Bruin’s championship culture to Long Island and deserved a lot of credit. Westfall joked that he was Long Island’s first ATM machine. He said, “all these young guys coming to Long Island would run out of money. They’d come to the old man in the room and I’d have to cover them until the end of the month.” The former captain then acknowledged all of the guests in attendance. He told them that they were the most important people in the room – not the former pro athletes – because of their commitment to benefit children in need.

LaFontaine and the foundation’s executive director, Jim Johnson introduced treasurer Carl Lombardi as the 2019 Pioneer Award winner. Lombardi stepped in when former treasurer Roger Simon resigned the position last year. Not only did he maintain the books for the foundation, he also worked to secure the donation of 3-D printers for a pilot program at local hospitals.

Lombardi’s family surprised him at the post-round dinner. He told everyone that , it just feels right,” to be doing this and he’s proud to be associated with LaFontaine and the charity.

LaFontaine sent thanks to all of the sponsors, but particularly to Lombardi and to Mike Heagerty of Edward E. Hall Insurance who both served as FRANCHISE sponsors for the day. Richard Pluta and his family sponsored the cocktail hour and dinner that was enjoyed by all.

The day was filled with poignant moments, including traditional tributes (at Amen Corner) to CiC Foundation supporters who have passed on. The golf course, and later, the dining room was filled with a spirit and enthusiasm that is contagious and inspiring.

Johnson presented a “year in review” that featured images of the 2018 Santa Connection and Heisman Trophy (Kyler Murray) visit to Mount Sinai Children’s Hospital. He also spoke about the foundation’s association with the Cradle of Aviation Museum and live Google Hangouts with Apollo and International Space Station astronauts. In 2018, the foundation did a complete make-over of the Lion’s Den Room in Wolfson Hospital in Jacksonville. The foundation recently expanded their relationship with Google and accepted the donation of 20 Pixel Slates for distribution to children’s hospitals.

The presentation closed with a personal video shot by New Jersey Devils star P.K. Subban that he sent to a patient in a local hospital. The impact of LaFontaine’s work was palpable in the room when the emotional video concluded.

The live auction featured unique golf experiences donated by Nick Patti (Liberty National); Garrett Bodington (Sebonac Golf Club); and Bill Talmage (Friar’s Head Golf Club). Sal Paterno of Milano Fine Men’s Fashion in Huntington Station generously donated a custom suit, and this auction featured one of the most unique items we’ve ever offered. Paul Madden has been collecting the signatures of Hall of Fame hockey players for more than 25 years. His jersey was authenticated and signed by more than 133 Hall of Famers, including Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux and Guy Lafleur. A spirited auction was held for this one-of-a-kind item and his generosity led to a windfall for the foundation.

Due to the weather conditions, the outing was held as a full team scramble. The foursome of Mike Heagerty, Greg Heinssen, Mike Dischmann and John Catapano took the low team honors. They bested the runner-up teams of Mike Matura, Zoran Grgas, Vinnie, Naletilic and Damir Penava; along with John Kiernan, Tony Trombino, John Shea and Don Krause.

Many golfers took advantage of pre-round massage and stretching offered by Kerri Winans Kaley of StretchLab in Woodbury. Her Woodbury shop on Jericho Turnpike is revolutionizing one-on-one assisted stretching and flexibility training classes. In their innovative group sessions – no matter what your range of motion or fitness level , they can help. Their group stretches are Flexologist-led and will help to increase flexibility and improve range-of-motion.

LaFontaine thanked the Major sponsors that included Rob MacInnis, Striano Electric, Jerry Wood, Delaney Contracting, Patti & Sons, Inc., Croatian-American Foundation, Harbor Irrigation, Cameron Engineering & Associates, Paul Gillin, Siemens, G2D Development, Mercedes Benz of Huntington, Gundermann & Gundermann, Heagerty Family Foundation, IRC Securities and J.C. Steel Corporation.

LaFontaine also thanked the Pluta Family for sponsoring the cocktail party and dinner, Jim Buzzetta of Mercedes Benz of Huntington for sponsoring the Hole-in-One contest; John Cameron of Cameron Engineering for sponsoring the player’s gifts, Sean McAuley and the McAuley Family Foundation for sponsoring the Putting Contest, Jerry Wood for sponsoring the Texas Hold’em Tournament;  Rob MacInnis for sponsoring the Premium Cigars; Andrew Cameron of BNB Bank for sponsoring the Driving Range.

Finally, an event of this magnitude cannot happen without the tremendous efforts of our volunteers: Cheryl Brown, Mia Gillin, Chris Crean, Dan Edwards, Wayne Scarpetta, Joe and Pete Johnson. Their boundless energy and enthusiasm brightened a dreary day and ensured that no child in the fight for life or health should have to go through it alone.


LaFontaine Named to National Fitness Board

September 20, 2019 in News

Hockey Hall of Famer will be liaison to President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition

by William Douglas @WDouglasNHL / Staff Writer    September 19th, 2019

WASHINGTON — Pat LaFontaine has been named to the National Fitness Foundation Board of Directors, and the Hockey Hall of Famer will serve as the board’s liaison to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” LaFontaine said Thursday at Washington’s Fort Dupont Ice Arena, where Ivanka Trump helped unveil the White House’s national youth sports strategy. “Sports and hockey have been a stepping stone to what I do today. The character-building you learn from sports, the life skills you learn from sports, is really its greatest value.”

The National Fitness Foundation is the only congressionally chartered nonprofit organization that focuses on health and fitness. It develops corporate partnerships to help expand youth sports participation in the United States and is the official charity of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition.

LaFontaine’s addition to the board and his liaison role will give hockey a presence on bodies that will help draw awareness to the importance of sports to the development and well-being of America’s youth.

“To have a figure like him, especially as a hockey fan and hockey player, is awesome,” said Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, who attended the Fort Dupont event with teammate Tom Wilson.

LaFontaine, the League’s vice president, hockey development and community affairs, said his work on the NHL’s Declaration of Principles made him a good fit for the National Fitness Foundation’s board.

The declaration, crafted by 17 hockey stakeholders and unveiled in September 2017, advances policies, programs and initiatives to create the best possible experience for the entire hockey community. It states, in part, that all hockey programs should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.

“All sports, but being in the hockey family, I’m proud to be part of the hockey family for all that it stands for — the finesse of the game, the excitement of the game, the love of the game,” he said, “but more importantly, what the game gives you: the life skills, the character, the development, the values that the sport stands for.”

LaFontaine brings a wealth of knowledge to the foundation as a former player and youth hockey coach. Selected by the New York Islanders in the first round (No. 3) of the 1983 NHL Draft, LaFontaine had 1,013 points (468 goals, 545 assists) in 865 games for the Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers from 1983-84 to 1997-98.

Born in St. Louis but raised in Waterford, Michigan, LaFontaine was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003.

LaFontaine said he’s eager to use his position on the National Fitness Foundation board to try to reverse the decline in youth participation in team sports.

A 2017 study by the Sports & Fitness Association and the Aspen Institute found that the number of children between ages 6 and 12 who participated in team sports dropped from almost 45 percent in 2008 to 37 percent in 2016.

Thirty-two percent of U.S. children are overweight or obese, according to the Fitness Foundation’s website, and $117 billion is spent annually in health care costs associated with physical inactivity.

“I was concerned with some of the stats coming out with all sports where we’re losing 70 percent of all kids in all sports at [age] 13,” he said. “That become concerning to me because values start at home, but school and sports are vehicles to reinforce those values. So to have this position, to be part of the National Fitness Foundation is a tremendous honor — and also a liaison to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition — I’m excited about that role.”


Heisman Visit at Mount Sinai

December 10, 2018 in News

On Sunday, December 9th, newly-minted 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray from Oklahoma University visited patients at Kravis Childrens Hospital at Mount Sinai.

He participated in a hospital-wide broadcast from the Kids Zone, made a couple of bedside visits and then visited the hospital’s Lion’s Den Room. Pediatric patients from other children’s hospitals across the Lion’s Den Network participated in a Google Hangout with the star quarterback. There were many smiles from the patients and Kyler as they asked him about his morning routine, his chances against the University of Alabama in the upcoming college football playoffs, and his favorite candy!

Murray is the second consecutive Oklahoma quarterback (Baker Mayfield in 2017) to visit the hospital on the day following the Heisman announcement. These visits go a long way to buoying the spirits of pediatric patients at both Kravis Children’s and across the Lion’s Den Network. The Heisman Trophy Trust has been partnered with Companions in Courage Foundation for a decade in providing access to college football’s top player for these very meaningful patient visits.

Santa Delights Across the Continent

December 6, 2018 in News

On December 4th and 5th, the 2018 version of Santa Connection was conducted in a dozen children’s hospitals throughout North America. More than 100 pediatric patients and their siblings got the chance for a personal visit with Santa Claus (and Pere Noel in Ottawa and Montreal!) via a live Google Hangout.

As always, this event is an emotional roller coaster replete with ample amount of laughter and tears.

The difference made by volunteers from Cisco, Google, St. Dominic High School and YouTube could best be articulated by Alexa at Cohen Children’s Hospital on Long Island, who told Santa that all she wanted for Christmas was to be able to go home with her family… Don’t we all wish that for each of these special children?

We danced with Elijah at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia when “Eesh the Elf” revealed that he was on Santa’s “Nice” list. We celebrated with Abigail at Oishei Children’s in Buffalo when it was revealed that she had her intubation tube removed that morning. We cheered on Kreek at Wolfson Children’s in Jacksonville as he celebrated his discharge day. Three-year-old Chloe at Ste. Justine in Montreal made us laugh when she brushed aside her nasal intubation to mimic Pere Noel’s “Ho! Ho! Ho!” And 11-year-old Leon brought a tear to Santa’s eye when he shared how he had created a Harry Potter Bingo game for his fellow patients at Kravis Children’s at  Mount Sinai in New York so they wouldn’t feel so alone in the hospital.

Far more patients than in any previous year accessed the Santa Connection from isolated rooms, where Child Life staff had to first don masks and gowns before conducting the session via Chromebook. This just amplified the importance of this annual program as we try and reach special children who simply cannot visit Santa in a shopping mall.

Through the generosity of Companions in Courage Foundation donor, every child received a gift card from Santa. These heartwarming visits reminded us all to be “good, for goodness sake!” For all who contributed their talents it helped put perspective on what the holidays are all about.