Doug Gilmour has been a regular skater in the annual Scotiabank Pro-Am for Alzheimer’s, but this year the reason for the successful fund-raising tournament will hit the Hockey Hall of Famer a little closer to the heart.
“I lost my father about seven months ago, and the last three months he had dementia,” Gilmour said.
A well-known member of Kingston, Ont., hockey and baseball organizations, Gilmour’s father, Donald, passed away in September after a lengthy illness. He was 81.
“So it makes you understand what’s it’s like for people to have to go through this,” Gilmour explained.
The Maple Leafs hero leads a decorated list of NHL alumni who will lace them up alongside weekend warriors May 3-4 at Toronto’s Canlan Ice Sports in an effort to raise funds for Alzheimer’s care and Baycrest’s research on dementia. Wendel Clark, Theo Fleury, Curtis Joseph, Marcel Dionne and first-timer Ray Bourque are among the 30-plus NHL legends participating in the Pro-Am, an event that has raised more than $20 million for its cause over an eight-year run.
Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute, one of the world’s elite neuroscience labs and the beneficiary of the funds, is developing a virtual brain to study the effects athletic impact and aging have on dementia.
“Every year they raise over $2 million, and it’s pretty remarkable what they do. I think everybody knows somebody who’s been associated with some kind of head trauma or Alzheimer’s, so that’s why we’re all here,” Gilmour told sportsnet.ca. “It’s a horrible thing to see someone go through.”
Gilmour’s retired teammate, Wendel Clark, will also be involved in the tournament, for which teams of average hacks can raise a minimum of $25,000 and draft themselves a few greats to line up alongside.
“Just a head’s up for anybody who’s drafting – I need a centreman like Dougie if I get drafted to your team,” Clark said. “The alumni, we’re proud and happy to be a part of sticking it to Alzheimer’s. Anytime us players get to go back and stick it somebody, we’re in. We don’t get to do it too often anymore.”