For more than 20 years, the Kiwanis Club of Guelph, Ontario, has been honoring the city’s local sports legends while using the event to give back to the community.
In 1987, three Kiwanians started a fundraising banquet and used sports celebrities to attract an audience. Five years later, the club was partnering with the city to sponsor the Guelph Hall of Fame. The club’s annual Sports Celebrity Dinner is now held in conjunction with the hall’s yearly induction ceremony, attracting hundreds of attendees.
The dinner earns the club a profit of nearly CAD$20,000 and helps support a variety of community projects, the main beneficiary being Camp Belwood, a summer camp for special needs children and adults.
“Our profit depends greatly on ticket sales, etc., from the Hall of Fame,” says Kiwanian Wayne Mizen, who helped organize that first banquet and has served on the Board of Directors for the Hall of Fame since 1993. “We saw a need to help foster sports at all levels.”
In addition to funding the Hall of Fame, the Guelph Kiwanis Club also supports Special Olympics and high school student athletes. Each year at the dinner, the club recognizes the top high school athletes in the city.
Four individuals and one team were inducted at the June banquet: indoor lacrosse goalie Bob “Whipper” Watson; veteran athlete Thomas McKenna; hockey and baseball coach and supporter Rob Holody; hockey referee James King and the 1960 Kiwanis Juvenile Baseball Team, which became the first Guelph team to win the Ontario Baseball Association Provincial championship. This brings the total number of Hall of Fame members to 116, including 18 teams, since the first induction ceremony in 1993. — Michael Jackson