“King Bushwhacker” Remo Campitelli won’t be hitting the ice this summer, but that hasn’t stopped him from fundraising for local kids.
On Saturday, the founder of Huntsville’s Bushwackers Hockey Club enters his ninth year running the club’s annual charity hockey tournament. Four teams, three from around Muskoka and one coming all the way from Ottawa, will play a series of charity games to raise money for the Huntsville Hospital.
Typically the money goes towards helping individual children with their medical needs. Because of COVID-19, Campitelli says the tournament will raise money for the hospital this year. Campitelli says the event has raised about $105,000 to date, including advance donations for this year’s tournament.
The tournament started in 2012 to fund accessibility changes, including a mobility lift, at the home of a six-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. According to Campitelli, after he saw the difference it made, he knew he couldn’t stop there.
“Once it was all done, we went in the elevator together, and the young lad got himself out the door to outside, he looked at me and said ‘I can go to the bus by myself’,” says Campitelli. “Just seeing the smile on this young lad’s face, it encouraged me, ‘you know what, this is something I’d like to do’.”
Since then, Campitelli has helped local children in a variety of ways, from funding mucus removal machines for four children with cystic fibrosis, paying for a girl’s stay at a mental health treatment camp, to simply supplying lumber for a fence to allow developmentally challenged children to play in their backyard safely.
“There’s been many little different things that I’ve done [in the meantime], and I’m always happy about it,” says Campitelli. “All in all, it’s rewarding to me if I can help any child.”
Although he retired 22 years ago, Campitelli says the past nine years running the fundraiser has him working harder than ever. He says he goes door to door to ask for donations and find sponsors for the event. Donations are also encouraged at the event itself, and Campitelli says no amount is too small.
“[People] can just put whatever in the box, whether it’s a loonie or whatever, it all goes to the same cause at the end, so it’s all appreciated,” Campitelli says. “And at the same time, they can meet the King Bushwhacker, so that in itself is worth coming, don’t you think?”
When asked if he ever plans to hand over the event’s reins to someone else, his answer is simple: “No way,” he says.
The tournament starts 10:50 a.m. on Saturday, at the Canada Summit Centre’s Jack Bionda Arena in Huntsville. To donate outside the event, contact Remo Campitelli at 705-571-4996.