Mayor Jeff Genung reminisced about the time he spent as a youth in scouts and cadets at the local Legion when announcing the organization will be the benefactory of the 4th Annual Mayor's Invitational this summer.

"My parents were putting me into things to keep me busy, I guess," he said. "We met often downstairs and we weren't allowed upstairs as a young person very often, so it's good to be able to hang out up here."

There was a bit of a chuckle to this comment, but a much louder applaud when he joined with tournament volunteers in announcing how the charity event will aid the Legion Hall, a long-time cherished community fixture.

Legion president Brad Ross says the funds will be used to make the Legion Hall a warmer, more inviting place and safe gathering place.

Legion press conferenceMayor Genung was joined by some of the volunteers organizing the Invitational at the press conference.

The press conference was held at the Legion on a Friday night (Apr. 12), when people were starting to arrive to enjoy the Legion's Friday night barbecue.

"Last Friday, we served 104 meals on barbecue night, which is double our average," says Ross. "We ran out of baked potatoes and went to French fries. To me, these are all good problems."

"We've been rebounding really well. Our numbers are coming up, we're getting busier and busier. We have a very good team that's getting the advertisement out to let people know events that we have going on."

Legion 2Legion president Brad Ross with Mayor Jeff Genung.

Recently, the Legion hosted a Dominion Darts Tournament that set record profits. Regularly they hold bingo, shuffleboard, crib, euchre, darts, music jams, karaoke and a growing number of special events.

They took a hit during the pandemic but since then they've taken some major steps forward as an organization with a blend of younger and older leaders.

"Our young guys kind of push the envelope a little bit, because we know what the next generation requires, because we are that next generation."

Thirty years ago, the mental health of veterans wasn't given serious consideration. Now it's understood that it's just as important to treat mental health as a broken bone.

'We've come through that generation and we're bridging that gap to help support those people, the physical elements as well as the mental elements, and want people to know this is a safe environment to come to."

The Legion currently has over 320 members. Ross says his focus is to help people understand why they're becoming members.

"That's to support our veterans and their family members. I was very fortunate in my military career, and I've come out the other end doing quite well, but there are a lot that are suffering that weren't as fortunate as myself. I want to give back to those people and let them know that that's what we're here for."

The Mayor's Invitational was held for the first time in 2021and raised over $80,000. Last year, it topped $90,000, the most yet, to provide a new roof for the Cochrane and Area Humane Society.

Each year, Genung scouts out possible benefactors of the Invitational.

"There's a lot of worthy causes in Cochrane, but none more worthy than the Cochrane Legion."

"I spent a lot of time in the basement as a scout as a cadet, and the Legion has a special place in my heart and it's time that we invest in it."

Genung says sponsorships are being pursued for the tournament and Qualico Communities has already signed on as the signature sponsor with its $10,000 donation.

The Invitational is being held July 22 at the Links of GlenEagles.