By Josh Beneteau
Tennis star Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., held the second annual Raonic Race for Kids at the Mattamy Athletic Centre Tuesday night. The event raised $120,000 for Raonic’s charity, the Milos Raonic Foundation and Tennis Canada’s Let’s Make Tennis Matter for Kids Campaign.
“We are trying to help disadvantaged kids so they can reach their goals and ambitions,” Raonic said. “This is something I really want to grow along with my career so that when I’m done my career I can continue it.”
But this event was more than the usual silent auction and fancy dinner. Instead, donors formed teams with a celebrity captain and competed in a wide-range of activities. Among the 12 events were mini-golf, basketball and of course, tennis. There was even a goalie cut out with Raonic’s face on it for the contestants to score on. Contestants were encouraged to score as many points as possible, while having a good time.
Among the celebrity captains were tennis stars Eugenie Bouchard and Daniel Nestor, Canadian Football League Hall of Famer Damon Allen and figure-skating star Kurt Browning. For Browning, it was his first time participating but he was excited to compete.
“Everyone wants this in their basement,” said Browning. “I’m a loud little guy and I’m going to have a good time.”
Another familiar face in attendance was George Stroumboulopoulos, who has had Raonic on his show in the past and was happy to support him.
“What’s interesting is that tennis is a very solo sport,” Stroumboulopoulos said. “He’s really embraced the idea of teams here, fundraising as a team and playing as a team.”
Once all the events were done, the scores were tallied up and it was revealed that there was a tie for first place between Bouchard’s Bayview Bombers and Marin Laurendeau’s team. To settle the tie-breaker, they faced off in a tennis match, with both teams having to keep a rally until one team dropped the ball. When Laurendeau sent the ball past his teammate, Bouchard and the Bombers were declared the winners and paraded up to the stage to lift the trophy.
There were other winners too. The top five individual raisers each got a shoe signed by Raonic and a gift card. One of those winners was Linda Glover who raised $5,830 on her own. Glover plays tennis and was excited her team got to play along with Blue Rodeo member Jim Cuddy.
“What really attracted me to fundraising for this one was the way it was setup,” she said. “It wasn’t just the same black tie dinner, this was something new.”