Twenty-six years ago, Tarj Mann, an avid golfer, got together with twelve of his close friends to organize a golfing weekend away in Courtenay, B.C. They aptly named their trip “The Mountain Golf Tournament” and ended up having such a great time, the weekend tourney became an annual event!
In 2010, a close friend of Tarj’s, and a fellow Mountain Golf Tournament organizer, Paul Sekhon was battling cancer. As he was sick and not able to travel too far from home, the group decided to relocate the tournament down island to Victoria, so they could be closer to Paul, and so he could attend the tournament and visit with everyone. Unfortunately, a few months later, the friends received a call that Paul was in the care of Victoria Hospice, with only a few weeks left to live.
“When Paul was going through his battle with cancer, our group of close friends knew things were looking dire, but we had kind of put that piece out of our heads, because the battle was the battle, and we were keeping the good thought. In January of that year, we learned that Paul might have only a few weeks. That hit us hard, and we all met at Tim’s Horton’s at Jubilee Hospital. We all took a deep breath and made the trek from Tim’s into hospice where Paul was with the family,” says Tarj.
“Paul saw us, and his first words were ‘I was wondering when you guys would come.’ We filed quietly into the room, and none of us really knew what to say at that point. Paul was the one who said, ‘Guys, tell some stories, let’s share some laughs.’ That really summed up who he was as a person and how he handled things.”
Paul was then transferred home where he was surrounded by his family, Tarj and their friends; who all remained on-hand to be with Paul and lend support. Paul continued to receive care through the Victoria Hospice Palliative Response Team, and volunteers. While in Paul’s home, the friends were moved by how personalized, compassionate and respectful the care was that Paul and his family received. For a lot of the friends, this was their first experience with Hospice care, and many were surprised by how holistic the hospice approach was.
The Hospice team kept Paul’s wishes front and centre, while also supporting Paul’s family. “It was the little things they did, that really meant a lot. For example, some of the volunteers made tea for everyone, which was a simple but meaningful comfort” said Tarj. As a result of this experience, and in learning that Victoria Hospice is only partially funded by Island Health, Tarj and his friends started discussing things they could do to give back.
Sadly, Paul passed away in early 2011. When the time came to plan the next Mountain Golf Tournament, the friends decided they would make the tournament a fundraiser for Victoria Hospice, in honour of Paul. The group started small with a fundraising goal of $1,000. They invited friends, family and work colleagues to join the tournament, and as a special tribute to Paul, they added his initials to each of the golf shirts they gave out to the players that year. They had approximately 24 golfers sign up, and were thrilled when they met their fundraising goal! This year, early in 2020, another friend and participant in the Mountain Tour, Raman Jhuti had passed away. His initials have been added to their shirt for 2020 along with Paul’s. “The initials serve to remind us how lucky we are to still be able to do what we do, and to do what we can to assist others in need”, says Tarj. “There are a few father son combos on the tour, which also serves to remind us how important family is. Every tour, in the middle of the revelry, we take time to remember our friends who are no longer able to join us.”
This year, the Mountain Golf Tournament is in its 10th year as a fundraiser, and comes close to 52 golfers; including Paul’s brother, son and nephew who are now all avid golfers themselves. With the development of the Covid-19 pandemic, they limited their numbers and had a slightly smaller group of 48 to 52 golfers and played at Arbutus Ridge, Cordova Bay and Olympic View over the 3 days of the tournament – August 21-23, 2020. “The tournament is an opportunity to come together to remember and honour our friend, Paul, and to support Victoria Hospice,” says Tarj. “Because of our personal connection to Victoria Hospice, it feels good to know that we’re helping other families receive Hospice care at a time when they need it most. Raising funds for Victoria Hospice feels natural. It’s a way to honour our friend and help our community in a meaningful way”.
Since 2011, the Mountain Golf Tournament has raised over $34,000 for quality and compassionate end-of-life care in our community. Thank you Tarj, and all of the participants and supporters of the Mountain Golf Tournament!