Working behind the scenes, Friends of Thunder Cats has raised funds for the local hockey team since 2009.
Currently eight members strong, the group of volunteers organizes an annual charity golf tournament in August and advocates for sponsorship to support the operation costs for the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, which adds up to approximately $300,000 per year.
“We want to keep our local hockey team going,” said co-ordinator Kevin Smith. “It’s great community entertainment. And for the players, Creston is a stepping stone to work their way up the ladder into Junior A.”
The golf tournament, which serves as the main source of donations, has been cancelled the last two years due to the pandemic.
“Last year, we were one day away when it had to be cancelled,” Smith.
Fortunately, the generosity of the community came through, with the majority of the sponsors agreeing to contribute funds regardless of the cancelled event. Friends of Thunder Cats also hosted an online silent auction that proved to be successful.
“We did just as good as any other year, despite COVID-19,” said Smith. “We still raised over $27,000.”
Since its inception, Friends of Thunder Cats has raised over $200,000. Every year, 25 per cent of the funds are donated to a health-related charity such as Ronald McDonald House, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
Most recently, Angel Flight East Kootenay was added to the list of recipients. On Dec. 10, Friends of Thunder Cats presented the charitable organization with a donation of $6,693 to continue their mission of flying residents to medical appointments in Kelowna.
Friends of Thunder Cats is seeking new members and sponsors to get involved. During April/May, the group meets to plan the annual golf tournament. Those interested are asked to call Kevin Smith at 250-402-8420.