On Saturday, former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was missing the net on every one of his shots — but that was his goal all along as the special guest of the inaugural Ottawa Pickleball Classic for the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
The hockey hero dropped by the RA Centre to help raise funds for the world-class cardiac care and research facility by playing the popular paddle sport.
He kept things fun and light against Ottawa Heart Institute’s deputy director general, Dr. Rob Beanlands, who’s also a leading cardiologist, and chief nursing officer Bonnie Bowes, vice president of quality, risk and health information at the Heart Institute. At one point, Alfredsson was seen making a behind-the-back shot.
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Next up, he took on CTV News Ottawa anchor Graham Richardson and his journalist colleague Jeremie Charron. Alfredsson’s partner was chosen through a raffle that was won by mom-of-six Tara Campeau. She and her pickleball partner, Lori Egan, were finalists for the best creative and colourful attire. They were the Queens of Hearts in their matching outfits.
The Alfie-Campeau combo beat the CTV duo in the tie-breaking third game of their match. “That was fun, that was really fun,” Campeau told OBJ.social when it was all over.
She described Alfredsson as “a real team player” who shared the court with her, rather than hog all the shots. “He probably would have been fine to play on his own; he’s such an amazing athlete,” said Campeau, who felt she upped her own game. “You always rise to the occasion playing with anyone who’s better than you, right?”
At the Mayor’s Breakfast with Alfredsson in February, the retired hockey player talked about his interest in introducing more Ottawa residents to a different racquet sport called paddel. It’s similar to pickleball.
The first-time tournament raised more than $30,000 for the Ottawa Heart Institute. Held over the course of several hours, there was plenty of time for players to mingle and to chow down on some lunch provided by Italian full-service grocery store Mercato Zacconi on Preston Street. Participants also included Erika MacPhee, vice president of clinical operations at the Heart Institute, and retention and engagement officer Angela Budge.
Jake Levinson, vice president of Levinson Group of Companies and part of the second-generation of Firestones to support the Heart Institute, stepped up in a volunteer leadership role with Sutton Group Ottawa Realty broker Colin Zappia, who is also on the board of the Heart Institute Foundation. As well, Zappia is chairing the Wilbert Keon Memorial Golf Tournament in July. The two men recognized the support from sponsors and from the Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation team led by president Lianne Laing and her colleagues Lindsay Firestone and Vanessa Gomes.
“As much as you like to say this was Colin and my event, we couldn’t have done it without you,” Levinson told the foundation, while also giving a special mention to “all the doctors, nurses and staff at the Heart Institute for their ground-breaking research in innovative health care.
“Lastly, thank you to everyone for coming out with such spirit and amazing costumes, and for supporting us in our little event that we can’t wait to grow.”