Golf balls rain down at inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial tournament for Ottawa Heart Institute

Sold-out event brings together 144 golfers, raises $190,000 for research at renowned cardiac care centre
Editor's Note

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The weather forecast called for a mix of sun and clouds with a chance of golf balls at Monday’s inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament held in support of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) Foundation.

Come late afternoon, a helicopter swooped in and launched all its numbered golf balls onto the fairway as part of the event’s ball drop contest. Everyone watched from the second-storey balcony overlooking the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. 

The sold-out event saw 144 participants raise $190,000 for research at the UOHI.

As much as it’s so unCanadian to brag, the UOHI remains one of the top heart institutes in the world. It just so happens to be located in Ottawa thanks to a certain heart surgeon with big dreams the late Dr. Wilbert Keon. He founded the cardiovascular institute in 1976. 

His son, Ryan Keon, golfed in the tournament that day with some of his relatives.

“We’re very, very pleased you’re here and that this memorial tournament can carry on his great legacy and his great name,” UOHI Foundation board chair Elizabeth Roscoe, senior vice-president of public affairs at Rubicon Strategy, told Ryan during the dinner reception.

The UOHI performs 2,000 heart surgeries every year, along with 12,000 other types of procedures. It sees 150,000 patients come through its door annually, said Dr. Thierry Mesana, president and CEO of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, during his brief remarks.

Toronto and Montreal may be bigger cities but Ottawa's got them beat when it comes to one of the most complex and vital organs in the body our heart.

“It’s a world-class institution,” the cardiac surgeon said of the UOHI.

Mesana was joined at the event by the chair of the UOHI board, lawyer Paul LaBarge, a founding partner of LaBarge Weinstein LLP.

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From left, Dr. Thierry Mesana, president and CEO of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, with UOHI Foundation board chair Elizabeth Roscoe and Paul LaBarge, chair of the board for the UOHI, at the Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament, held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Organizers of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation's inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial, joined by board chair Elizabeth Roscoe (far left) and Dr. Thierry Mesana (far right) celebrate the $190,000 raised at this year's golf tournament, held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The UOHI Foundation was thrilled to be able to hold its golf tournament following two years of fundraisers that were creative and innovative but couldn't quite bring people together because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“It’s so nice that we’re now connecting in person,” UOHI Foundation executive director Lianne Laing told OBJ.social.

Colin Zappia, a realtor with Sutton Group Ottawa Realty, is now going to be leading the organizing committee, taking over from Jaguar Land Rover Hunt Club general manager Leslie Mise.

“They asked me to be chair next year and I didn’t hesitate; it was an immediate yes,” said Zappia, who sees the role as a way of honouring his father, Tony Zappia, a former patient of the Ottawa Heart Institute. He passed away of a heart attack in 2007 at age 60.

“For me to be on this committee is really special and something I hold near and dear to my heart.”

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From left, Lianne Laing, executive director of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) Foundation, with organizing committee member Colin Zappia and Elizabeth Roscoe, board chair of the UOHI Foundation, at the Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament, held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Spotted at the event were such supporters as Calian CEO Kevin Ford, Emond Harnden founding law partner Jacques Emond, Searidge Technologies CEO Moodie Cheikh, Mandeville Private Client portfolio manager Duane Francis, Gifford Carr Insurance Group president Matthew Carr, Merkley Supply marketing manager Ken Merkley and Jennings Real Estate co-founder Ken Jennings, who's on the board of the UOHI Foundation. Also golfing in the tournament that day were Ottawa Senators players Thomas Chabot and Drake Batherson.

During the live auction, BMO Nesbitt Burns investment adviser and UOHI Foundation board member James Annis bought the helicopter ride for six, courtesy of Helicopter Transport Services. It comes with a tour of and wine tasting at Kin Vineyards. 

There was a half-dozen unique experiences and getaways sold off by emcee and retired TV news anchor Michael O’Byrne. Criminal defence lawyer (and licensed pilot) Solomon Friedman donated an aerial tour for two in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. The package included meals at Al’s Steakhouse and Zak’s Diner and a stay at Les Suites Hotel. There was also a dinner for four at Giovanni’s Italian restaurant, accompanied by well-known heart surgeon, innovator and researcher Dr. Marc Ruel.

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From left, Kevin Ford, CEO of Calian, was supporting the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament for the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation with Curtis Clapp, who's Calian's director of sales and recruiting for ITCS (information technology and cyber solutions). Photo by Caroline Phillips
 
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From left, Mark Jennings and Ryan Keon, son of the late Dr. Wilbert Keon, golfed together at the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Duane Francis, portfolio manager with Mandeville Private Client, golfed with Rick Lafleche from Canada Post and mortgage agent Jean Lamarche at the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Ken Jennings, co-founder of Jennings Real Estate and board member with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation, golfed with Andrew Finnson, VP of land development at Caivan Communities, Linebox Studio owner and principal architect Andrew Reeves and Chris Packman, project manager at Shopify, at the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Frank Nieuwkoop, owner of Valecraft Homes, took advantage of the offer for golfers to get their blood pressure checked at the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Matt Grimes from NAV Canada with Searidge Technologies CEO Moodie Cheikh and Kelvin Hickey, also with NAV Canada, at the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
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From left, Emond Harnden law partner George Rontiris with Brett Hynes, associate Erica Bennett (who's expecting a baby in a few weeks) and founding partner Jacques Emond at the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
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James Annis, investment adviser with BMO Nesbitt Burns and board member with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) Foundation, with Lindsay Firestone, director of community engagement and development for the UOHI Foundation, at the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
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From left, Nick Assaly, a general manager with Mark Motors Group, with fellow organizing committee members Rocco Caminiti and Eli Saikaley, co-owner of Silver Scissors Salon in the Glebe, at the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
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From left, Matthew Carr, president of Gifford Carr Insurance Group, with Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation president and CEO Michael Maidment, Keynote Search CEO James Baker and Jeff Westeinde, president of Zibi Canada, at the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
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From left, Guan Wang and Dimos Agraniotis, GM of Mercedes-Benz Ottawa Downtown, with Ottawa Senators players Drake Batherson and Thomas Chabot at the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
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From left, Don Burke, partner at Kelly Santini LLP, with Al Brown, president of Cavanagh Concrete, and TD Commercial Banking managers Taimoor Aslam and John Dahms at the inaugural Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club in Dunrobin. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
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Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament organizing committee member Alex Reklitis with his mom, Penny Reklitis, who volunteered that day, and his dad, Jim Reklitis, a manager with Arnon Development Corp. and a longtime supporter of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Elizabeth Roscoe, board chair of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) Foundation, with Paul LaBarge, board chair of the UOHI, at the Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament, held Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Eagle Creek Golf Club. Photo by Caroline Phillips

caroline@obj.ca