ABERCROMBIE – Growing up, Derek Clarke didn’t have to worry about having a roof over his head or where his next meal might come from.
He knows not every child or youth is as lucky as him and that’s why he wants to give back to the community, specifically to Pictou County Roots for Youth.
The local non-profit charity provides services and programs to youth in the community with the main focus of working with youth experiencing difficulties in regards to homelessness and the causes leading to homelessness.
“I’m blessed to have parents and a family like I have and I couldn’t imagine being 16-years-old in this county with no job and no help,” he said. “It’s so hard to make it. All of us struggle, so how does a kid with no family or help make it?”
Clarke’s involvement in raising funds for the charity is mainly focused around next weekend, which will consist of two separate events and an autograph signing session. The third annual Charity Golf Scramble will be held Saturday, Aug. 9, at Abercrombie Country Club, while a new fundraiser, Rollin’ for Roots, will be held on Sunday at the Titans Jiu Jitsu Academy.
On Saturday they will have the autograph session at Central from 10-11:30 a.m. before the golf tournament. For $5 the public will have the opportunity to get autographs from UFC star Mark Hominick, two-time Olympic snowboarder Sarah Conrad, three-time Olympic kayaker Karen Furneaux and MMA fighter Matt MacGrath of Cornwall, P.E.I.
All four, plus Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens affiliate) goaltender Joey MacDonald, comedian Peter Anthony and Sportsnet Connected host Ken Reid will be at the golf event. Having athletes and other celebrities come in has increased the interest in the tournament each year, something Clarke hopes will continue for years to come. This year he is expecting between 140 and 150 players, with some groups getting to play with the celebrities.
“It’s getting bigger and bigger and more people are talking about it, like Sarah got her friend Karen Furneaux, the world champion, to come down and she’s very interested to play,” said Clarke. “Everybody is talking about it so I guess that’s how it builds.”
Sunday’s Rollin’ for Roots was a new endeavour for Clarke, who is a member of the Titans Jiu Jitsu Academy in New Glasgow. The idea to have Hominick come for the tournament was at the forefront, but he also added the idea of having a seminar and training session with the recently retired UFC fighter.
“He’s a world-class fighter and he has fought on the biggest stages, like title fights in front of 60,000 people at the Rogers Centre, so he’s definitely a veteran and is very well respected in the martial arts world,” he said. “On Sunday he’s going to come and do a seminar with another MMA fighter from here who is very close to making the UFC, Matt McGrath.”
Clarke expects 60 to 70 people from around Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to come attend the seminar and training session. He said there has been a lot of interest and although there is no specific cost to attend, they are asking for $10 to $20 donations per person to go towards the charity. Their hope is to raise another $1,000 on top of the golf tournament.
Through two years they have raised over $11,000, but this year Clarke hopes they can raise $10,000 and push their total over $20,000.
“We’re pretty excited because we’re a small town type of group, but the Titans MMA in Halifax is our big club and we have a lot of good guys that are on the verge of UFC as well,” he said. “Hominick is almost like a GSP. He’s right on that top level like George St. Pierre, so a lot of the guys are really excited to just meet and greet with him and if they get the chance to roll with him or hit pads with him it will be exciting obviously.”
There is still space for one more team in the golf tournament. To register or for more information on the events contact Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris