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Giving back can't start too early for Hearn

July 26, 2017

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.com

Just like so many of us, David Hearn’s life has been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

His grandmother, Beatrice Carter, the woman he had so many fond memories of visiting in Toronto when he was young, battled what is the most common form of dementia for nearly a decade. Hearn’s great-grandmother suffered from the insidious disease, as well.

The decline was steady. By the time Carter died nearly seven years ago, she sometimes had trouble recognizing members of her family, including Hearn.

So, when her grandson was looking for a way to give back in 2015, he didn’t have to look far to find the cause he wanted to support.

By the end of this year, the David Hearn Foundation – through its charity golf tournament and the sale of its signature wines and hats – will have raised roughly $500,000 to support the Alzheimer Society of Canada. He first got involved with his local chapter in 2011 and continues to lend a hand in his hometown.

“There's hardly anyone that I talk to that hasn't been touched by the disease in some way or another,” Hearn says. “I feel very fortunate that I'm able to be in a position where I can help out and try to improve the care of the people around us.

“Unfortunately my relatives aren't around anymore that suffered from it, but if we can make it a little bit better for those people that are, it would be good.”

This year’s David Hearn Charitable Golf Classic was an early sellout. The tournament, which began in 2012, will be played on Monday at Ontario’s Brantford Golf and Country Club, which is Hearn’s home course.

The event caps a busy stretch for the 38-year-old Hearn, who is playing in the RBC Canadian Open this week at Glen Abbey. It’s a tournament near and dear to his heart.

In 2015, Hearn nearly became the first Canadian in 61 years to win his national championship. He held a two-stroke lead entering the final round and ended up finishing third.

Hearn’s foundation was launched later that year. Its focus is on initiatives that help create awareness about Alzheimer’s and how it affects various parts of the community.

“I feel like we can raise a lot of money and make an impact when it comes to trying to care for people better,” Hearn explains. “I don't think I can make as big an impact on the research and cure side.

“So I wanted to focus more on trying to give back to the families and the people that are suffering from it as best I could.”

Toward that end, the foundation has several innovative programs beyond Monday’s well-received golf tournament.

For example, the sale of those David Hearn Foundation golf caps made by Levelwear raised $20,000 a year ago. The hats are once again on sale at www.davidhearn.ca.

The same logo is on the David Hearn Foundation wines from Rockway Vineyards in St. Catharines, Ontario.

One of the wines is a cabernet sauvignon-merlot blend and won a bronze medal in a Canadian competition last year. The other is a chardonnay-Riesling blend.

“In that area of Ontario, especially that winery is really famous for its Rieslings,” Hearn says. “The grapes have a sweet quality to them because of the seasons and the cold.”

Hearn, who estimates he’s got at least a case of each at home, is partial to the cab-merlot blend while his wife likes the white. He got to meet with the winemaker and provide input in the tasting process.

“Obviously, they're the experts, so I'm just giving a little bit of feedback,” he says. “But they did a great job, and they made it real easy for us.”

Once available on a limited basis, primarily at the vineyard, the wine is now sold throughout Ontario in stores run by the liquor control board. A portion of the sales are donated to the DHF.

“So it's a good sign that it's popular and the people are liking it,” Hearn said.

And the partnership with Rockway is a match made in heaven in more ways than one.

The vineyard also has a golf course where the David Hearn Kia Championship is held. The tournament is the finale of a six-event junior series hosted by the golfer and his sponsor

Two of those junior golfers, Everett Craven, who is 13, and 8-year-old Johnathan Coffey, received the first David Hearn Foundation Kia Grants earlier this year and will be honored Monday night at the foundation’s charity event. Those grants allow the young golfers to make $4,500 donations to their local Alzheimer Society chapters.

For Hearn, the giving back can’t start too early.

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