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Once again British Columbians demonstrated their incredible capacity to give by opening their hearts, their wallets and even their homes to support individuals and organizations in times of need. From the notable to the most buzzworthy, here’s one final look back at 2018’s top merrymakers and the very good people behind them. Here’s to them and a kinder, gentler 2019.
Susan Chow and Lisa Dalton steered the province’s most stylish and successful fundraising lunch. They fed, entertained and managed to collect $600,000 to help those facing cancer today. In five years, the power lunch and Bacci/Boboli fashion show has generated nearly $4 million for B.C. Cancer. The agency also hosted one of the city’s top galas of the year. Its Inspiration Gala eight weeks later would muster another $4.3 million.
TIME TO SHINE
Chair Judy Leung and the Chinese community rallied behind VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation’s efforts to kit out 16 operating rooms with state-of-the-art equipment. A relative newcomer to the social circuit, the lavish event in just four years has seen well-heeled guests donate more than $10 million to surgical care. A $1.5 million gift from Westbank CEO Ian Gillespie and his wife Stephanie Dong led this year’s fundraising charge. It would contribute to a brilliant $4.3 million night.
Jennifer Johnston and a powerful group of social do-gooders were the force behind the Crystal Ball’s record-setting night. For only the second time in the party’s 32-year history, B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation’s flagship fundraiser reached the $4 million mark. Always a top-notch affair, this year’s extravagant dinner and auction would benefit mental health initiatives for children and youth at the province’s foremost pediatric, teaching and research facility.
Sue Adams and Jacquie Prokopanko shined a spotlight on the Michael Audain Art Museum in Whistler. With wine fairies suspended from the Westin Hotel pouring drinks, you knew this was not going to be your stuffy gala party. Convincing art heavyweights to make the trip up the Sea to Sky Highway, they were rewarded with a fine evening of entertainment, as well as great art that went on the auction block. The second annual event generated an impressive $500,000, up $200,000 from its debut.
HEART OF GOLD
After stalling and a brief hiatus, the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Heart of Gold Gala returned bigger and better. First time chair Jen Rainnie pumped new life into the 13th show of hearts event, attracting 500 guests to the New Orlean’s themed party, produced at Parq Vancouver. Rainnie along with Olympic figure skating medallist Joannie Rochette — a Heart and Stroke Ambassador — and a band of hot firemen drummed up $850,000 in support of women’s heart and brain health.
WHITE ENVELOPE GALA
Treana Peake never forgot the beautiful act of kindness she and her mother received in the form of an anonymous envelope of money that arrived annually. Much needed then, now Peake lives her life by helping others. She hosted her inaugural White Envelope Gala, inviting 200 kind-hearted people including crooner Michael Bublé to her outdoor West Vancouver house party to learn of the plight of refugees living in the world’s largest settlement camp. An impressive debut, party guests would pay it forward to the tune of $450,000.
A NIGHT OF MIRACLES
Bob Rai and Manjot Hallen chaired the South Asian Community’s A Night of Miracles. An always-colourful affair, the tenth staging raised a record $755,000 for B.C. Children’s Hospital. The tally was $275,000 more than the amount collected the previous year in support of the Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children Enhancement. The fundraising achievement represented a new standard of philanthropic support for the once grassroots event Robin Dhir founded in 2009.
Four-time chair Jennifer Traub, and newcomer Megan Lauman fronted the Canadian Cancer Society’s signature soirée. There was much flower power in the Hotel Vancouver ballroom as philanthropists, business leaders and cancer survivors doled out $1.54 million to help improve the quality of life of those living with cancer. Their generosity rewarded with a surprise performance by Sarah McLachlan. The siren fittingly performing her hits Angel and Ordinary Miracle for the star-struck crowd.
NIGHT OF WONDERS
Benefiting Children’s Wish Foundation, Kevin Mazzone and Tiffany Soper piloted the fifth Night of Winders Gala at the London Aviation Centre. Always held in a unique location, this year’s Wishes Take Flight event was a stunner in more ways than one; from the decor and food to the $550,000 collected. It was another record setting haul for the fledgling little-gala-that-could that began in the cramped confines of the Vancouver Art Gallery foyer.
It was a banner year for Christie King. She married her prince, Goldcorp CEO David Garofalo and successfully co-chaired her second Splash Gala with party partner Bruce Munro Wright. The 36th edition of the Arts Umbrella art auction was also a record-breaker, netting $560,000 for the blossoming visual and performing arts school. 2018 was equally a good year for the school. It received the go-ahead to move into a new 50,000 square foot Granville Island space formerly occupied by Emily Carr University.
HARD DAYS NIGHT
Guided by Joelle Paleologou and Ritu Khanna, the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation’s premiere party had 500 people cross the pond to the land of strawberry fields for their very Brit bash. Pulling out all the stops, their royal affair — the best theme party of 2018 — celebrated the best of Britain from the Beatles to the royal family. A major success, the party not only raised a million dollars to support the hospital’s mental health initiatives, but the duo was also invited to Las Vegas to share their party secrets with other event planners.
Chairs Lauren Armstrong, Karin Smith and Alexandra Mauler-Steinman could have danced all night at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s 28th Symphony Ball. Always a spectacular night of sweet music, the black-tie ball also gave 650 gala-goers the opportunity to say goodbye to outgoing conductor Bramwell Tovey who led his merry group of men and women through their musical paces one final time. The evening of music and dancing also scored $790,000 for the company’s educational initiatives.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Canuck Place Children’s Hospice’s Gift of Time; Chinatown Foundation’s Chinatown Gala; Pacific Autism’s Launch Holiday Luncheon; B.C. Children Hospital’s For Children We Care Gala, and Family Services of Greater Vancouver’s Speakeasy Soiree.