Canadian PGA golfer David Hearn of the David Hearn Foundation Kia Grant (left) hands a $4,500 check to Jon Robbie Watson at a ceremony held at at Brantford Golf and Country Club in Ontario. — Stephen Watson photo

Junior golfer earns grant to support Alzheimer’s society

Nanoose Bay’s Jon-Robbie Watson is first BC recipient of David Hearn award

Jon-Robbie Watson loves golf.

The Nanoose Bay youth is only 13 years old and has been playing the sport almost all his life. When he was just starting to develop his golf game, Watson had a special person watching him, monitoring his progress. His grandmother, Joyce Prosser.

For Watson, they were fond and endearing moments with her he will never forget. He had always hoped that his grandmother would get to see him become successful not only in golf but also in life. Sadly she passed away at 78 when Watson was only seven years old. But she is always in Watson’s heart.

The one thing that continues to vividly linger in Watson’s memory about her “Nanna”, as he called her, was the Alzheimer’s disease she went through in her most senior years. Having seen what the disease can do to a person, Watson felt he needed to find a way to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s.

A family friend suggested that he apply for the David Hearn Foundation Kia Grant, which supports the Alzheimer Society of Canada. It motivated Watson to go for it because the foundation not only promotes education about Alzheimer’s but also involves a golfing experience.

To win the grant, Watson was required to submit an essay about his experience of having someone in his life who went through the disease.

He wrote about his grandmother.

“I think back to memories with my Nanna watching me hit balls off the bank at the cottage in Cape Tormentine, NB,” Watson wrote in his essay. “She always hoped to see me graduate and perhaps succeed at a career in golf. Sadly, she did not make it past 78 and I lost her when I was only seven. She had a huge impact on my life. She was a warm and caring person and I hope to also carry that with me through life helping others.”

“Sadly, my grandma had Alzheimer’s dementia and she was getting worse and worse every time I saw her but she always had a good mindset and would support me with golf saying good job or beautiful golf swing.”

The essay won Watson the grant worth $4,500 that would be donated to the Nanaimo and Vancouver Alzheimer Society of BC in his name. He is the first BC recipient of the grant and one of four across Canada to win it.

“It was such a big honour to win it and donate it to a good cause,” said Watson. “I know my grandmother would be proud of me.”

Watson, who is a junior member at Fairwinds Golf Club and is coached by Helene Delisle, had the opportunity to travel to Ontario and play with other grant recipients in a Texas scramble event at the 9th annual David Hearn Foundation Charity Classic at the Brantford Golf & Country Club. It was a memorable experience that Watson said he will always relish and appreciate greatly.

“When I’m on the course I visualize in my head she is still with me and cheering me on,” Watson wrote. “Her death did not stop me from playing golf, but it made me want to play more for her to make her proud. Nanna was an RN and helped so many people and who she was is why I want to play in this tournament — to help others. It is a great cause and perhaps some day many grandpas and grandmothers can still be around to enjoy and see their grandchildren grow up. Life is too short and we need to be there for each other.”

Watson will be starting Grade 8 and going to Ballenas Secondary this coming school year. He hopes to continue developing his golf game and do well in his other endeavours, which include taekwondo and playing the trumpet.

Founded in 2015, the David Hearn Foundation’s central focus is to support the Alzheimer Society of Canada in reducing the personal and social impacts of the disease by raising funds to provide individuals and families with needed programs and services.

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