The Bourque Family Foundation, led by Bruins’ legend Ray Bourque, is preparing for the crown jewel of its charitable efforts: the annual Captain’s Ball, held in conjunction with the Peter Frates Family Foundation in support of the fight against ALS. How did these Boston powerhouses come together, and what can you expect from this September’s event? 

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 “With the Bourque Family Foundation, my wife and I wanted to create something where we could get the kids — and grandkids — involved,” says Ray Bourque, Boston Bruins’ legend, Hockey Hall of Famer, and North Shore resident. “And they are. When we have events, all the grandkids are there (six children total, ranging between 10 months and 12 years). When we say, ‘Bourque Family Foundation,’ that means you get all of us! Once my wife and I move on, our hope is that the family continues to do good things in the community and to have this foundation for many more years to come. We all want to make a difference.” 

Bourque has been making a difference in New England from the moment he arrived in Boston as an 18-year-old rookie for the 1979-80 Bruins. During his 20-plus seasons with the franchise, not only did he change the face of the defenseman position in hockey (winning five Norris Trophies as the NHL’s top blueliner), but he also launched many off-ice initiatives, including the Bruins’ now famous Christmas Toy Giveaway to families in need. Once Bourque retired, he continued his involvement in the community through various charitable endeavors, and even hosting an annual golf tournament, Bourque Golf, to help support these efforts.  


After his career closed with the 2001 Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche (where he was traded and played the last one-and-a-half of his 22 NHL seasons), Bourque, his wife Christiane and their three children — Melissa, Christopher, and Ryan — have continued to call the Boston area home and continued to find ways to support causes throughout the region. Bourque has helped create contributions totaling more than $20 million to more than 1,000 different organizations. By 2017, the family decided to combine their charitable efforts to make a greater difference, launching the 501(c)3 non-profit Bourque Family Foundation. 

With nearly $1.4 million donated to almost five-dozen beneficiary organizations, the Bourque Family Foundation hosts a trio of annual events: the 7.7K Road Race in spring; Bourque Golf in summer; and, in September, the Captain’s Ball in honor of Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball player diagnosed with ALS in 2012 who co-created the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, leading to more than $220 million raised for ALS research (Frates passed away in 2019). 

Photo courtesy of The Ray Bourque Family Foundation

It’s that upcoming Captain’s Ball — which is set for its third year of partnership with the Peter Frates Family Foundation and the Sean M. Healey & AMG Center for ALS at MGH on Sept. 19 at SoWa Power Station in Boston — that is the nearest and dearest cause to Bourque and his family. 

“This will be the third year,” Bourque says. “It’s been awesome, but it’s something we really want to grow. We want it to be a special night in Boston every single year. While we’ve raised nearly $450,000 over two years, that’s a number I’d like to hit every year.” 

Photo Courtesy of the Ray Bourque Family Foundation


Bourque says that he learned quickly once arriving in Boston that supporting charities was a big part of Bruins’ culture. 

“With the Bruins, right away you learn there are some events you must attend to be a part of the community. They’ve had them year after year, and you enjoy being part of those things and giving back,” he says. 

Bourque remembers when he and his teammates made the decision that led to the launch of the Bruins’ Christmas Toy Giveaway. “One year, the players decided to collect money at Christmas and go shopping and give toys to homeless kids, single moms, and others in need,” he says. “We’d go into homes or shelters or hospitals to give away these toys. I remember my daughter coming with me to deliver toys when she was 12. She couldn’t believe the kids she was meeting weren’t getting any other gifts.” 

Photo courtesy of The Ray Bourque Family Foundation

This history of giving continued throughout Bourque’s renowned playing career and into his post-career life. Dozens of charities across the region — the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem, Melmark New England, Granite State Adaptive, The Jimmy Fund, and more — have benefited from the Bourque family’s largesse during the past four decades. But the desire to create something bigger always was there. 

“Christiane and I decided to start our family foundation seven years ago,” Bourque says. “The boys (his sons) played professional hockey. They grew up with this idea of giving and were involved in it while they were playing, so they knew it well. It was something natural for the family to begin.” 

The foundation’s first event is now its longest running: Bourque Golf, the annual celebrity tournament (this year on August 22 at the Golf Club of New England in Stratham, N.H.). The following year, in 2018, the foundation started its 7.7K Road Race (the 2024 edition took place on the streets of Salem, N.H., on May 18). 



“After that, my wife said, ‘Ok, enough with sports. Can we have something that has nothing to do with sports?’” Bourque says with a laugh. “So, in 2019 we created what was called the Black-and-White Gala. The money went to Melmark New England, which is a leader in supporting children, adolescents, and adults diagnosed with autism. It was a great success, a great night.” 

He adds, “Growth is our biggest measure of success. You know, the golf tournament can’t grow much bigger. There’s only so many people who can play. So how can we grow it? Make sure everyone has an amazing time. The Road Race: there’s always the potential to grow it, and we’ve done so every year.” 

But those events merely set the stage for what’s become the biggest Bourque Family Foundation Event, which is now entering its third year: the Captain’s Ball. 

Photo courtesy of The Ray Bourque Family Foundation

When asked about the biggest success the foundation has had, Bourque doesn’t delay. “The first year we had the gala, the feeling we walked out of there with and the energy we felt in that room all night long — it seemed like people didn’t want to leave,” he says of the September 2022 Captain’s Ball event, which strengthened the already powerful partnership between the Bourque family and Frates family.  

After the event, Bourque recalls visiting with John and Nancy Frates, Pete’s parents. “Everyone was like, ‘Wow, that was inspiring!’ You could feel the vibe, the energy of the people who were there. They were having fun. When someone feels that, and they know they’re doing good things, raising money, then they’re going to enjoy themselves. I get my satisfaction from the enjoyment of the folks that come to support. That and, of course, obviously donating the money to the center at MGH and to the Frates. And when I see how they appreciate what we do, and I just want those checks to grow.”

Photo courtesy of The Ray Bourque Family Foundation


But how did this power partnership between two of New England’s best-known non-profits begin?  

“I remember when Pete Frates was diagnosed,” Bourque says. “He’d refereed an alumni game I’d played in, and I was told that night that the young guy officiating was a great athlete who had just been diagnosed with ALS.” 

It wasn’t long before a connection was made. “The Frates reached out to see if there was some way we could find to raise money for ALS,” Bourque says. “I remember that conversation took place at Tresca (Bourque’s North End restaurant). We were upstairs, and I remember seeing Pete come up the stairs. He’d just been diagnosed, and you’d never know he was sick. We talked with Nancy, John, and Pete about ways to do something.”  

Photo courtesy of The Ray Bourque Family Foundation

While the initial conversations centered on a charity hockey game, Bourque and family remained connected to the Frates family and stayed personally involved in their efforts. But when Pete died in 2019, the next step was clear. 

“We’d had the first Black-and-White Gala earlier in the year,” Bourque says. “The second event was scheduled for early 2020. I remember being at Pete’s funeral with Christiane, and we looked at each other and knew this was the chance.”  

He continues, “All of our other events, we’ve donated to different charities around New England. We’d never locked into one thing because there are so many needs. We try to support people who support us. But we decided then that this event was going to be for ALS research and Peter Frates Family Foundation, to keep Pete’s memory alive. We presented it to Nancy and John to team up to have this night in memory of Pete, and we were all very excited about it.” 


After a couple years of pandemic-induced delays — and a rebrand as the Captain’s Ball in a nod to Bourque’s role as a Bruins player and Frates’ leadership on the Boston College baseball team — the 2022 event was the smashing success described above. One of many reasons for the success is the support of the Bruins’ franchise and current players. The event is well timed for that. 

“We targeted September because we know the Bruins are back in town for training camp,” Bourque says. “They’ve been fabulous all along. Starting with Big Z, Zdeno Chara, and Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Brendan Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Jeremy Swayman — all these guys. A few of them support my golf tournament, but this event — being downtown, just before camp starts — they’ve been awesome. They’re present, they’re involved, and they’re great with the fans.” 


After bringing in nearly a half-million dollars combined in 2022 and 2023, the Bourque and Frates families are hoping for even more this September. With that in mind, the foundation created a committee to build on the success — built from Ray and Christiane’s powerful networks.  

“There are some special people who are a part of it, who are passionate about this night, and ALS,” Bourque says. “It’s a nice team, and a big effort to grow it into something where we could give the hospital and the foundation $1 million a year. That’s my goal and vision. Slowly but surely, we’ll get there.” 

Photo courtesy of The Ray Bourque Family Foundation

One of the big shifts in 2024: a move from Big Night Live in the shadow of TD Garden to the SoWa Power Station, an iconic 1891 building in the South End. “We moved the Captain’s Ball location due to growth,” Bourque says. “I want everyone in the same room to experience the same feeling. SoWa Power Station is huge, it’s beautiful. And it will allow us to do everything we want with space for to 1,000-1,200 people.” 

Beyond the direct donations of sponsors and others, the event will again feature a silent and live auction — “I do the live auction, and Bob Sweeney serves as my Vanna White,” Bourque says with a chuckle — with proceeds going to the ALS cause. 

“We always have good auction items, but we’re trying to make a couple of them very special,” Bourque says with some excitement. “As always, though, my main goal is for our supporters to have an amazing time. When you come to a Bourque Family Foundation event, you’re going to have fun! You’re going to listen to music, have a great meal, a few drinks, and really enjoy yourself. And you’re going to know that you’re doing great things for the greater good”


Please click on flyer to purchase tickets to the 2024 Captain’s Ball on Thursday September 19 at SOWA Power Station.