Editorials by Robert Kirwan


Our Most Valuable Resources Are Worth Fighting For...Accept the Challenge

I was recently reminded of a golf tournament I played in way back in August 2000. I was on a team with my son and two of his friends. Marty Kirwan, Stacy Levac and Todd Newell had been inseparable friends for many years and needed a fourth player for their team which was entered in the Annual ‘AAA’ Midget Golf Tournament. Last year they came in 2nd place by a single stroke and wanted to take a serious run at winning it this year. We had a practice round prior to the tournament and even went to the driving range to warm up before our 11 a.m. tee time on the day of the big event. When we took our place on the tee to begin our quest for the championship, little did I realize that I was taking part in one of those significant life experiences that we all look back upon with fondness over the ever increasing years of our life. 

Hence, the other day I looked back on the moment with mixed feelings.

The golf part of the day was remarkable in itself. The three young men I had the privilege of playing with, each in their early 20's, executed unbelievable skills throughout the round. I was the one who was expected to be the stabilizing force on the team. After all, at almost three times their age, and with a reputation of being a fairly good golfer, my experience was to have helped them along. Needless to say, that try as I might, my drives were short, my chips were off the mark, and my putting was nowhere near perfect. As a matter of fact, out of the 58 best ball strokes we took, only two of them selected were shots that I had made, including the drive on the very last hole. Marty, Todd and Stacy each came through when needed and seemed to know when it was their turn to hold up the team. They were in good humour throughout the afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed what they were doing with an air of confidence that made you feel like they were destined accomplishing their goal. They even made an old man like me feel like I was an integral part of the team and I was delighted to be along for the ride.

We actually won the tournament by three strokes - a relatively large margin of victory for a scramble event. I doubt if I will ever witness, let alone be a part of, another performance as good as the one I saw that afternoon. Long drives in excess of 300 yards; pin-point accurate chipping, and; excellent putting were the order of the day. I don’t think I had a bad day of golf, but I just couldn’t come close to the standard set by my three partners.

As we mingled among the other 141 golfers in the clubhouse at the end of the competition, I felt a tremendous sense of pride at having been part of the winning team. I knew so many of the participants, having lived in Valley East for 27 years, and it was a great feeling receiving comments about playing with my son and his friends.

Nevertheless, even amid the excitement and glory of winning the tournament, there was also a sense of sadness inside my heart that was hard for me to explain. I knew that moments such as I was experiencing that day would be few and far between in the future unless we do something drastic to prevent our greatest resource - our children - from being forced to relocate to the south to find meaningful employment and careers. As I looked at Marty, Stacy and Todd that evening, I realized that they will miss so much of the quality of life that exists in Valley East unless we create a reason for them to stay. 

They have since graduated. Marty is now living in Toronto, where he is running the Southern Ontario office of our marketing company. He is engaged to be married to a nice young lady, Christine Woodley. They will not likely ever return to Valley East. Todd is also living in the Toronto area. It is unlikely that he will ever return. Marty, Todd and Stacy talk to each other from time to time, but will they ever have an opportunity to experience the feelings we shared in August 2000? It makes that moment even more special as I now look back on it.

To all of the readers who are from my generation, I lay down the challenge. Let us do something for our children before it is too late. Let us help create an economically viable community in which the Marty’s, Stacy’s and Todd’s of tomorrow can grow up and enjoy a quality of life that is unique to the north. The Sudbury District can offer our children just as good a future as Toronto, but we must create the proper environment in which this can happen. We must take chances and invest our time and money into new initiatives, and we must do so before it is too late. Let’s not talk about downsizing anymore. Let’s talk about expanding and creating wealth upon which dreams can be built.

I am not ready to give up on the future just yet. We have already lost too many Marty’s, Stacy’s and Todd’s. It is time for action. 

As for special moments, when I had the personal opportunity to play a round of golf on Father's Day this year - with my Father and my other two brothers, Frank and Wayne - I realized that with my Father approaching 80 years of age; and with Wayne no longer living in the Sudbury District - it was a moment I couldn't pass up. I now have another memory on which to look.

As you grow older, the memories of the past seem to motivate you into action with respect to the future. Once again, I lay down the challenge to those who care so much about the future of our great community. Look back and see how many cherished memories you have of moments spent with loved ones in Valley East. Use those memories to accept the challenge. We have to do something to create a future where our most valuable resource will be retained.

Until the next time....


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