Dylan Stanley loaded his golf clubs into his car before the sun was up Friday morning and hit the road.
Its about a 121⁄2 drive from Edmonton, Alberta, to the Tri-Cities, but its a drive the former Tri-City Americans forward has made many times to tee off in the annual Olie and Stus Desert Bash charity golf tournament.
I think this is my seventh year, said Stanley, who will play this coming season for EV Bozen 84 Bolzano (Italy, Serie A2). Its fun to do and it gives me a reason to go down there in the summer. Its a good cause.
Stanley is just one of several hockey, football, basketball and baseball celebrities who will play today and Monday at Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland to raise money for the Carson Kolzig Foundation, which primarily benefits the Responding to Autism Center in Kennewick.
Bash co-founders Olie Kolzig and Stu Barnes headline the list of celebrities at the event, which also includes Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, former NFL defensive lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen, Pasco native and former Detroit Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman, and former Portland Trail Blazers Darrall Imhoff, Greg Smith and Bob Gross.
The event, in its 12th year, has raised more than $1.2 million. Last years event raised about $289,000 through auctions, sponsor fees and raffles.
The Carson Kolzig Foundation is named for Kolzigs 11-year-old son Carson, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 15 months old. The players will tee off for the first round at 8 a.m. today. The second round will be Monday at noon.
This years event only has a few former Americans in the mix, including Kolzig, Barnes, Price, Stanley and former coach Bob Loucks, but Stanley said he is looking forward to the weekend nonetheless.
Coming down in the summer, you feel young again, said Stanley, who played 339 games over five years for the Americans. Helping out the Kolzig Foundation is starting to mean a lot to me and my wife (Maggie). The one thing about hockey players, is once you play a season or two with a guy, you build a bond. I see Carey (Price) every summer. Its a great time. You want to catch up and tell some stories.
The Responding to Autism Center has helped hundreds of families in the Mid-Columbia, and money raised this weekend will ensure that the center can continue to offer support and resources for those in need.
A good portion of the money raised comes from the live and silent auctions, which offers some very tantalizing items.
Whereas Price signed a multi-million dollar deal with Montreal earlier this month and is offering a couple of sweet deals in the auction, Stanley joked he had to keep his offerings on a more modest scale, since his latest contract was a couple dollars less than his.
Im bringing a jersey from my team in Germany last year. Hopefully I can get $25 for it, Stanley quipped. Just trying to do my part.