This weekend promises to be a glorious one to go watch world-class athletes on the fairways at Whistle Bear Golf Club for the third annual Manulife LPGA Classic.

My family loves golf, and while I’m not a great golfer (except at mini-putt), I grew up spending my Sunday afternoons watching PGA on the TV with my dad. Yes, I am that person who blocks off weekends to watch favourite tournaments on television.

The first time I actually saw a professional golf game being played live and up close though, was at the first Manulife LPGA Classic at Grey Silo Golf Club in Waterloo by RIM Park in 2012.

I fell in love with the process and seeing how the game translates to TV. I was also amazed by the skill and strength of the incredible female players, many of whom I was watching for the first time.

What I didn’t really understand was why the St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation was involved with the tournament.

And then the foundation approached Communitech this year to participate in its #RedDayFriday campaign.

I sat down with Peter Sweeney, the Foundation’s President, to learn more about the foundation’s role with the golf tournament, and why you and I should wear red this Friday, June 5.

The foundation has been the Manulife LPGA’s official charity partner since 2012. Together, they’ve raised almost a million dollars for cardiac-patient care (the foundation hopes to hit the one-million-dollar mark during this year’s week-long fundraising drive).

“The Manulife LPGA is a great platform for us to talk about female heart health because we have some of the best female athletes in the world showing and talking about the importance of a healthy lifestyle,” Sweeney said.

On the Friday of the tournament, LPGA players wear red on the course. Spectators, volunteers and event staff also show up dressed in red. The foundation uses the momentum to “spread the red” throughout the community, and has asked companies and organizations to join the #RedDayFriday campaign.

The campaign raises awareness about women’s heart disease – the number-one cause of death among Canadian women.

It kills more women annually than the top six cancers combined. The problem, as Sweeney notes, is that women don’t consider it a threat.

Women, Sweeney said, tend to be focused on caring for their families.

“They struggle with finding that balance between career, life, kids, and aging parents,” he said. “There’s a lot of stress on women in our community.

“Women, you need to take care of your hearts. Men, help take care of the hearts of the women you love.”

Women tend to ignore a lot of the symptoms: unusual fatigue, difficulty breathing, anxiety and pain in the neck, jaw and shoulder. They assume it is just stress and will go away.

But that degree of tension can actually impact the heart.

“Being under a lot of stress takes a toll on the body and the heart,” Sweeney said.

The tech sector, he notes, seemingly moves at 100 miles an hour, 24 hours a day. It’s a breeding ground for high stress, fatigue and heart issues.

“Sometimes you need to stop and take a heart check,” he said.

So, what are we doing for the #RedDayFriday campaign?

Well, we are asking everyone at the Communitech Hub to wear something red on June 5.

During lunch hour, there will be a fun mini putt course in Area 151 for you to try out to win prizes. If you tweet a picture of yourself with your red outfit, using the hashtag #RedDayFriday, you’ll be entered to win some more prizes.

If you feel like giving some money to the cause, the foundation will be accepting donations that Manulife will match dollar for dollar.

“At the end of the day, we want to raise awareness and help prevent something bad from happening to the women in our lives,” Sweeney said.


If you aren’t at Whistle Bear Golf Course all weekend watching the Manulife LPGA Classic, there’s still a lot to do around town. I see and hear that . . . This Friday, June 5, is the 2015 Koi Music Festival launch party. The night kicks off at 8 p.m. in the old Pop The Gator at 54 Queen St. S. in Kitchener. Tickets are $10. The event includes performances by Teen Violence, Heaven Through Hell and more. You’ll also find out who will be playing at #KoiFest15 this September . . . Communitech will be at STEAM Heat this Saturday, June 6, at the Waterloo Public Library’s main branch, 35 Albert St. This is a free-to-attend, educational, hands-on event that celebrates the region’s best in science, tech, arts, engineering and math. Running from 1-4 p.m., STEAM Heat features food trucks, live music and booths set up by local companies such as Hackademy, the University of Waterloo, Waterloo Fire and Rescue and more. Make sure to stop by and say hi to me . . . Monday, June 8 is the Hackernest June Tech Social, happening at Boltmade, 187 King St. S., Waterloo. Starting at 8 p.m., the by-donation event is a networking-free night of drinks, camaraderie and socializing.