Football players might be tough on the field, but a keynote speaker for the Weyburn Rider Nation Green and White Gala admits that he is a little nervous about his first ever fundraising event. “I haven’t done much speaking; I am a football player not a public speaker, but I am working on that,” said Brendon LaBatte, newly signed Roughrider and former Weyburn local.
“I am looking forward to coming out to Weyburn,” added Brendon. He is especially proud to help promote and fundraiser for the Weyburn Minor Football Association.
The Green and White Gala will be held on Friday, May 11 at McKenna Hall. “Ticket sales are going great,” said Rochelle Wendt, Weyburn Rider Nation co-chair. “We have three-fourths of the event sold and are down to the last tables.”
Wendt noted that there were no more tables of eight available, only single tickets and tables of six. The tickets cost $450 for a table or six, or $75 per ticket. All proceeds of the event will support Weyburn Minor Football.
In addition to a banquet and speeches from Rider representatives, the Green and White gala includes a live auction, silent auction and raffle. “There is something for everyone,” said Wendt. “We wanted to come up with an event that was a little bit different and would be a nice event for the whole community.”
Some of the items that will be either auctioned or raffled off include a Brendon LaBatte signed jersey; a “Round With the Receivers” golf package from the Weyburn Golf Course for two people, to golf with Riders Rob Bagg and Chris Getzlaf; a signed Darian Durant jersey; game tickets and packages, and more.
LaBatte, an established Canadian Football League star, never had the opportunity to play minor football during his youth in Weyburn. He joked, “I was just too big for peewee,” which was the only minor football level available to him at that time.
He did play for the Weyburn Comp Eagles. “There was so much camaraderie with the guys that I played with, it was so much fun. We just went out and enjoyed the game. The best memories I have of the Eagles were all the fun times I had.”
After high school, LaBatte played Canadian Intercollegiate School football with the Regina Rams, and then was drafted sixth overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 2008 Canadian Football League draft. During his time with the Blue Bombers, LaBatte won three consecutive CFL east division all-star awards from 2009 to 2011.
When LaBatte became a free agent earlier this year, he was signed by the Roughriders. He is looking forward to returning to Mosaic Stadium as a Roughrider. “The stadium has a lot of sentimental value (to me),” said LaBatte, noting that he played at Taylor Field with the Rams.
The new head coach for the Roughriders, Corey Chamblin, and Riders alumni Matt Dominguez will also attend the Green and White Gala.
When asked about working with Chamblin, LaBatte said, “He is young and has a real passion for the game. I look forward to working with him.”
The Weyburn Rider Nation has organized previous fundraisers to help the Weyburn Minor Football Association with their new football field development. The project was one of the reasons why the Weyburn Rider Nation entered the “Where is Riderville” contest last year, and was one of the top five finalists.
Other fundraisers included the Football 101 Ladies Night, and the Rider Pride Hockey Challenge. The Green and White Gala will be “a great connection to football, and people will want to see the sport thrive in our community,” said Wendt.