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Thornton putts, punches and does whatever else he can to help others

Posted by David D'Onofrio  August 13, 2013 05:59 PM

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Thornton Golf3
All photos courtesy of Pretty Instant.

Shawn Thornton came to Boston – and subsequently endeared himself to Boston – as a hockey player who is willing to lead, willing to stick up for people, willing to literally fight the battles of others every time he puts on his skates.

And as many around the city can attest after he’s been here for six years, the same is all true, too, when he puts on his street shoes. Or his golf spikes, as the case was Monday.
Sometimes seeming omnipresent at charity events around the area, the Bruins winger went to Middleton to host one on behalf of his own foundation, putting on the fourth annual Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s Golf Tournament at Ferncroft Country Club, raising funds and awareness for the fight against the disease that took his grandmother after she lived with it for 14 years.

Starting with a long-drive contest, the 18-hole event included the participation of teammates Tuukka Rask and Daniel Paille, some former Bruins, as well as other local celebrities and personalities – and came a day after the Shawn Thornton Foundation organized a team that raised $11,649 by running in the Falmouth Road Race.

Thornton started his foundation to help attempts to find cures for both Parkinson’s and cancer, with its “Cuts for a Cause” event heavily supported by his teammates every year. This past April it raised more than $76,000, the biggest chunk of which came when a company paid $5,000 to see Brad Marchand get his head shaved.

His own events make up just a fraction of the appearances Thornton – the Bruins’ 2009 winner of the John P. Bucyk Award for community service -- makes throughout the course of a year, though. He is a frequent visitor to patients of area hospitals, he’s a spokesman for Athletes for Heroes in its efforts to help the children of fallen or injured soldiers, he supports other athletes in their charitable endeavors seemingly whenever he can, he is appearing at a fundraiser in conjunction with UFC this week – and while it may not directly result in moneys raised, he has immersed himself in the culture of Boston by embracing the city like he’s been one of us all along.

A son of Ontario who played all around North America before signing with the Bruins in 2007, he considers this home now, and said during a radio interview last week that this is where he’ll be settling when he retires.

At 36 and after a long career built on his reputation as a tough-as-nails enforcer, that day when he’s forced to unlace his skates for the final time may be coming sooner than later – but it’s safe to say that even if he’s no longer wearing black and gold, Thornton will still be plenty visible and active in the community. Six years of evidence suggests that putting in the hard work to help make things easier for others is as much a part of his fabric as a person as it is a player.

And so even after he’s dropped his gloves for the final time, along with his foundation he’ll have plenty of battles still to fight.

ThorntonRaskPaille

Thornton Golf2 (1)

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Dave D'Onofrio follows Boston's pro players away from the field, court or ice, covering their interests and activities in the community and beyond. A Massachusetts native, once his dreams of More »

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