Thornton heads charity golf tourney

MIDDLETON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins veteran forward Shawn Thornton has dedicated his charity work to his grandmother, who succumbed to a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s disease five years ago.

The Shawn Thornton Foundation held its fourth annual “Putts & Punches for Parkinson’s” charity golf tournament Monday at Ferncroft Country Club. The proceeds from the event will benefit the American Parkinson Disease Association and the Boston Bruins Foundation.

“It hits close to home. We were really tight and it was awful towards the end,” Thornton said of the disease and his relationship with his grandmother. “I’d walk out of there in tears sometimes after visiting her in the home. We got this started and it’s been getting bigger and bigger every year and this year is probably the biggest.”

He’s helped raise awareness and money for various charities during his career and finally launched his foundation last January. Since arriving in Boston in 2007 when he signed with the Bruins, Thornton has made the city his permanent home and takes pride in working with the community off the ice.

“I’m happy to be involved in the community,” he said. “I don’t think it’s too tough to be involved around here, and [I] try to do the hospital visits as much as possible, at least one or two a month, and with my foundation I’m a little bit busier now trying to set up events to raise money to give back.

“When your name is on something, you want it to be successful," he said. "Obviously, I take pride in the fact that I’m very involved in it and trying to make the most of it. There are a lot of people who have helped me in the community, too, and especially with my foundation and this tournament, there are a lot of people who have made my life a lot easier, so it’s nice to be able to give back to them a little, too.”

Teammates Tuukka Rask and Daniel Paille attended the event Monday.

“For myself, I haven’t done too much charity so far, so when I have a chance to come out and help out Shawn, or anybody else for that matter, it definitely makes you feel a little bit better about being able to participate and I’m happy to be here,” Paille said.

On the ice, Thornton is a fan favorite for his intensity and blue-collar style of hockey. He turns 37 on July 23 and has one year remaining on this contract with the Bruins.

“I’m going to play until they rip the skates off me and tell me I can’t anymore,” Thornton said. “I’m aware of how old I am, but I definitely don’t feel it. I think I’ve been fairly consistent the last few years. People probably have varying opinions on that, but I’ll show up and try to do everything in my power to continue to be in good shape and be ready to go for the start of the season and contribute in a positive way.

“I hate losing more than anyone and last year stung, and that will stick with me, for sure. I want to have a big year personally, but more, our team, I like the moves we’ve made and we’re built to be a good team and go a long ways, so I’d like to be a part of that,” he said.