CANTON — Cancer took Sami Curtis’ life but did nothing to diminish the impact that the Canton Central student-athlete exerted in the north country’s fight against the dreaded disease.
On Thursday, at the 31st annual Petty Re-Open Golf Tournament at the St. Lawrence University Golf and Country Club, the tournament’s committee provided a donation to the Help Sami Kick Cancer Foundation.
The donation, which was presented to Jim and Karen Curtis, will go directly to the Lodge at Dream Ranch, which includes 45 acres and a home where victims of Pediatric Cancer can go to enjoy recreational activities. And where Sami’s courageous crusade goes on.
“Cancer took Sami’s life but it couldn’t touch her fighting spirit,” said Sami’s dad Jim Curtis.
“This donation will go the Lodge at Dream Ranch. Things are going very well at the ranch. The Bassmasters have gotten onboard and taken pediatric cancer center patients out fishing.”
Another group of outstanding fighters were honored as the golf tournament held its annual tribute to the Sled Hockey team of Fort Drum representing the Wounded Warriors of America. The team is coached by Mark MaKenna of Canton and has played all over the world.
The tournament’s annual awards presentation saw Gouverneur Central running back Peyton Schmitt receiving the Don Petty Memorial Award as the Outstanding Football Player.
Ron Johnson of Ogdensburg and Jack Lawrence of Canton were recognized as the recipients of the Don Petty Memorial Good Guy Award for Outstanding Service to Section 10 Athletics.
Gouverneur Coach Sean Devlin spoke of the talent and dedication of the St. Lawrence University bound Schmitt, who will graduate from Harrisville Central School this weekend.
“Peyton drives 35 minutes each way just to get to practice. He is extremely dedicated and he bonded the Gouverneur and Harrisville communities. He and his family are my friends for life,” said Devlin of Schmitt, who was also a key member of Harrisville’s New York State Class D Basketball Championship.
“In three years at Gouverneur, he never lost a regular season game. That is pretty impressive.”
Schmitt is one of 64 players who attended the Brian Leonard Summer Football Camp on a scholarship funded by the Don Petty Memorial Re-Open. Attending this year’s camp on scholarship are: Nate Pennyman of St. Lawrence Central, Caleb Farr of Gouverneur, Alfred McNeil of Malone, Dominic Macelli of Massena, Byson St. German of OFA and Mark Phippen of Potsdam.
Ron Johnson was honored for his service to Section 10 Athletics and athletes as a physical education teacher, a football, track-field and wrestling coach, director of athletes and now as president of the Ogdensburg City School District’s Board of Education. Johnson is also part of the OFA/St. Mary’s Academy Hall of Fame Committee.
“Ronnie was always fair, and he was always our athletic director,” said OFA’s retired New York State Hall of Fame Coach Bill Merna.
“He has done so many things at OFA and his construction company has worked on half of the houses in town, including mine.”
Canton’s retired Hall of Fame Boys Basketball Jerry Hourihan presented Jack Lawrence as one of the first people he met after joining the Canton Central staff in 1966.
“In 1971 Jack was part of a group of people who got together to save sports when the school had budget problems. Jack has been a staunch supporter of the Canton Golden Bears his whole life. You can go to Ogdensburg, Plattsburgh, Massena or any other place in the north country and people there know Jack Lawrence,” said Hourihan.
“My wife and I spend our winters in Florida and we meet people who know Jack Lawrence all of the time. He is just a great friend.”
NOTE: The tournament was led by an outstanding performance by Team Gray which took top honors with a 13-under-par round of 59. Pat Gray, Tad LeVac, Mike Germano and Marty Burkett also won the only skin on the day, for $400, with an eagle three on the eighth hole.