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Pete Vandermeer to host golf tournament in support of mental health

Red Deer Advocate - 9/9/2023

For the first time ever Pete Vandermeer has launched a new golf tournament in hopes of raising money and awareness for mental health.

In less than a week the Pete Vandermeer and Friends Bench Clearing Brawl and Enforcer Appreciation Golf Tournament will be underway at Alberta Springs Golf Resort.

The funds raised on Thursday, Sept. 14 will go towards multiple organizations including the Mustard Seed, the Professional Hockey Players' Association(PHPA) Alumni Assistance Program, and the Ty Pozzobon Foundation.

Vandermeer, who's currently a member of the Red Deer Rustlers hockey team, has had a long career in hockey after growing up in Caroline, Alta. including time spent in the WHL, ECHL, AHL, and the NHL. Locally he played for the Red Deer Rebels and the Innisfail Eagles but also spent time with the NHL's Arizona Coyotes.

Vandermeer explained he's wanted to help these causes for quite some time and finally had the opportunity to do so.

He said after serving as an enforcer throughout his whole hockey career it's what he experienced that inspired him to help out.

"I saw a lot of guys suffer from concussion problems and get into some bad stuff after hockey so I just wanted to help out with that sort of stuff," he said.

"Raise some awareness too that the tough guys looking after everyone on their on and off the ice that sometimes they need a hand too."

Vandermeer added the PHPA looks after alumni from the AHL and the ECHL with mental health issues. Many of the players he said fall through the cracks and don't get the support they need after playing hockey. It can range from mental health to concussion issues and even some dealing with CTE.

The Ty Pozzobon Foundation was launched by Pozzobon's parents in 2017 after he took his own life. He was a professional bull rider who had problems with addiction, and concussions. It was also discovered after his passing that he had CTE.

Vandermeer has wanted to give back ever since he retired from his professional career and he thought now is as good a time as ever.

"Things just worked out that we could fire it up this year for the first time and hopefully we can grow it, make some money, have some good people out, and make some memories," he said. "That way everyone wants to come back and do it again."

Vandermeer added they're looking for three more teams to sign up for the tournament and so far the support for the event has been fantastic.

"We really only kicked into high gear the organizing part of it in the last month and a half. I'm humbled and very happy at how much support we've received already not just from central Alberta but from North America and across the world," Vandermeer said adding they should have 144 golfers next week.

The tournament will also feature many prizes and there will be a 50/50, among other things throughout the day.