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NHL stars trade hockey sticks for golf clubs in Muskoka to support Special Olympics

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NHL star Morgan Rielly traded his hockey stick for a golf club this week in Muskoka to co-host the inaugural Motionball Forty Fore Fall Classic in support of the Special Olympics.

"I've been involved with Motionball for a couple of years, and it's been a true, real connection with these athletes and trying to raise money for Special Olympics is important to me," Rielly said.

And the Leafs defenceman wasn't alone.

"To have some teammates as well is awesome to get that support, and we're looking to win this tournament," Rielly said about his on-ice teammates Sam Lafferty, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner joining the 120 golfers in Port Carling Tuesday.

Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews plays in a golf tournament in Port Carling, Ont., on Tues., Sept. 5, 2023. (CTV News/Mike Arsalides)

Ryan Colpitts has been a Special Olympics athlete for 16 years and with Motionball for 10 years.

"Motionball is a great organization that really makes sure that the inclusiveness of Special Olympics is there. They run a bunch of different galas and marathons of sports and tournaments like today where athletes really can express themselves and really be who they are and be able to meet different people and sponsors and people who may not have known what Special Olympics was but now want to get involved," Colpitts said.

Motionball chairman and co-founder Paul Etherington noted the tournament isn't about the best scorer but the Olympic athletes. "They're pursuing golf; their goal is to hit the national team in four years, and that's why we're here," Etherington said.

The sold-out event was an overwhelming success, bringing golfers together to compete against Special Olympians and the Leafs' top stars.

"Best golfer out of us? Auston Matthews is an Arizona boy; he's played a lot of golf. We've got Sam Lafferty; he's probably our best player, a scratch golfer. Myself, I'll be in the third spot, and Mitch Marner is in the fourth spot. He's kind of if we need him, he'll come up clutch," Rielly said.

"It's a nice treat you get to see them kind of out of their element and on the course," said golfer Damon Sutherland.

Impressed by the technique of the Leafs on the golf course, Colpitts said he's a proud Leafs fan who hopes the team goes all the way this season.

"The swing pattern is the same, so I think they'll do really well this season, especially if their golf game is just as good as today," he said.

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