B.C. couple finishes fundraising cross-Canada golf challenge in Saint Andrews

(Submitted photo) Lorraine and Chuck Marr visited the Algonquin golf course on Aug. 25 as the final stop on their Trans-Canada Golf Campaign. The couple embarked on a re-creation of their honeymoon from 50 years ago, while raising money for a youth mental health and substance abuse prevention program in B.C. They played more than 50 golf courses over the past four months.

SAINT ANDREWS – For Chuck and Lorraine Marr, a cross-Canada golf challenge had special meaning to them.

Not only was it a chance for the couple to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary through a re-creation of their honeymoon, but it enabled them to honour their late son, Todd, who took his own life due to drug addiction 14 years ago at the age of 32.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the people we have talked to have a story,” said Lorraine. “Addiction is either in their immediate family, they know of someone in their family or have friends dealing with these issues, and COVID really compounded things.”

“Golf helped us when we first lost him and we wanted to be able to honour him,” said Chuck.

For close to four months, the Marrs, who live near Langley, B.C., have been on the road for the Trans-Canada Golf Campaign, raising money for Project Resiliency, a student mental health and substance abuse prevention program. Their goal was $50,000 for their 50th anniversary, however before they took to the golf course at the Algonquin, their final stop on the campaign, they were nudging close to $84,000.

“We have a vested interest for that aspect in that we have grandchildren coming up through the school system,” said Chuck. “We want to help kids in their most vulnerable years, in the eight to 12 grades in school.”

Lorraine said the couple has travelled internationally but always wanted to retrace their honeymoon across Canada, but they needed to do something more.

“We wanted to help children and help lessen the stigma,” she said. “We want to get kids talking and get parents talking more. Sometimes it’s hard for children to talk to their parents because they fear being judged and it may be hard to talk to their peers because they fear being bullied.”

The program in Langley, they say, is a three-day program that helps children in tough situations get help they need.

This Trans-Canada Golf Campaign has seen the Marrs play on more than 50 golf courses in 10 provinces.

“We’ve had overwhelming support from golf courses everywhere,” said Chuck, noting many would donate the green fees and in turn, the Marrs would donate the equivalent to charity.

Chuck said the program in B.C. could be used as a model throughout the rest of Canada, and Lorraine said it could be modified to better fit particular areas.

“If any good comes of this, if the governments federally and provincially could commit the resources to helping during those vulnerable years, we’d be happy,” he added. “The model has been so successful because they have people who listen empathetically and it’s one-on-one dialogue. The professionals don’t judge and children feel free to share their issues or what they’re going through.”

As they’ve travelled throughout Canada, the Marrs say the issues in many communities are almost identical to those facing youth in Langley.

“It’s hard to use descriptions but it’s effecting everyone similarly,” Chuck said. “It’s rampant and everybody needs to address this. I’m convinced a proactive way is the best way. By the time they’re in treatment, it’s sometimes impossible to come out on the other side.”

He said it would be a good start for resources to be allocated directly into the school system but admits it’s a collective societal issue for all to be involved in.

“Today, so much is happening in a child’s life,” said Lorraine. “Many struggle to find their way through school, family and social media.”

She suggests parents talk to their children about their experiences and how they felt.

“As adults, we need to realize that this happens more and more. In our son’s case, he hid it so well from us. Even though he had his own business and helped people, he was in a dilemma and was pretty far gone by the time we realized it.

“He really did lose hope and the outlets there to help him were too backlogged.”

When people need help, especially youth, they don’t want to be told to come back a month later, says Chuck.

“Because this is a crisis, they need help immediately. We need all forms of government to come together to find a path forward,” Lorraine added.

“That’s why we’re trying to do our small part, to open the conversations and to help overcome some barriers,” said Chuck.

Throughout their travels, Chuck and Lorraine came across a few people who have also lost a child due to drug addiction, including one who was the same age as Todd.

“As parents and family, we need to open up the dialogue with young people and have these conversations. We need to find out where they’re coming from and listen to them, don’t judge them or make them feel lectured to,” said Chuck.

“Let them know you love them and you’re there to support them,” added Lorraine. “Parents have the opportunity to look for resources where someone who is struggling won’t look for themselves.”

editor@stcroixcourier.ca

Raissa Tetanish