‘Making Magic’ gala raises $36,000

Duane Hicks

Since 1997, the Riverside Foundation for Health Care has raised more than $11 million for district health care.
After Saturday night’s “Making Magic for Health Care” fundraiser at La Place Rendez-Vous, it can add another $36,000 to the total.
“We feel that things went very well, and once again it’s all due to the tremendous support from the entire district,” special events committee chair Janice Cousineau told the Times on Monday.
She noted the Foundation’s special events committee–also comprised of Karen Woods, Rochelle Duchnicki, Livia Lundon, Natalie DeGagne, Jan Abbott, Lynne Savage, and Grace Cridland–each year provides the venue and “our supporters do the rest.”
“All of the comments we’ve heard have been positive,” Cousineau said.
Proceeds from this year’s gala will go towards ergonomically- and therapeutically-designed beds and mattresses for Rainycrest, as well as the Emo and Rainy River Health Centres.
They’ve been specifically-designed to promote safety for long-term care residents.
The Foundation’s goal is to purchase 15 new beds and mattresses–five for each facility.
With each bed and mattress set costing $2,700, that means it has a fundraising target of $40,500.
With Saturday’s total nearly hitting $36,000, that means the target almost has been met.
Cousineau also shared a few words during Saturday night’s special event.
“It is our honour and our pleasure to host you at this, our 20th fundraising event,” said Cousineau, who has been on the committee since its inception.
“It was 20 years ago this September that the Foundation was formed, and 20 years ago that the first fundraising event was held,” she noted.
“Coincidentally, it was held right here at the Rendez-Vous.
“The special events committee has experienced great success these past 20 years, and that success is due solely to the incredible and generous donations of you and all of the stakeholders of the Rainy River District,” Cousineau added.
“So thank you for coming, thank you for your continued support of our fundraising efforts,” she remarked.
“We hope you have a magical evening of fellowship, fun, and games.”
Riverside Foundation chair Bill Gushulak lauded the special events committee Saturday night.
“The special events committee has done it again as we celebrate the Foundation’s 20th anniversary,” he said.
“This year’s selected gala theme, ‘Making Magic for District Health Care,’ is very apropos.
“I am sure you’d all agree that our very creative, enthusiastic, and hard-working special events committee has always worked some real magic over the years into all of their fundraising endeavours,” he noted.
“The success that has been realized over the years is due to the continued support of the entire Rainy River District and on behalf of the Foundation board of directors, I extend sincere appreciation,” Gushulak added.
Gushulak also thanked the business and individuals who supported this year’s gala, as well as past Foundation chair Kim Jo Bliss for her dedication over the past few years.
The evening’s program also included a sizeable bequeathment to the Foundation from the Estate of Lillian Newman, a long-time supporter of the Foundation.
“Lillian’s life was filled with tragedies, for those of you that knew her,” said estate executor Georges Blanc, noting she lost her husband, Earl, in the mid-1990s and both of her sons–one in 2007 and the other in 2008.
“She was very generous to many, many charities,” Blanc added. “She gave to everything and everybody.
“She was very generous to charities in the district and in the community, having left her entire estate to basically four charities–her church [Knox United], the Salvation Army, the hospital in Thunder Bay, and the hospital right here in Fort Frances.”
Last fall, Blanc has the pleasure of presenting a cheque for $400,000 to the Foundation. Then on Saturday night, he presented Gushulak with a cheque for another $100,000.
The balance of the proceeds from her estate probably will be distributed in early 2018, Blanc added.
“She was a wonderful person, both her and her husband and their family, and their contributions to this community are much appreciated,” he reiterated.
Gushulak also lauded the La Verendrye, Emo, Rainy River, and Rainycrest auxiliaries, which have been pioneers of fundraising for district health care over the years long before the Foundation existed.
“Over many decades, these hard-working groups continued to dedicate themselves to a variety of very ambitious and successful projects–all in the interest of improving health care and our district health care facilities,” he noted.
Altogether, the auxiliaries have donated more than $1.1 million to the Foundation since 1997.
“We are proud to be associated with the auxiliaries and must also show our appreciation to them,” Gushulak concluded.
In addition to a delicious meal served up by the Muskie boys’ football team, Saturday night’s gala also featured games such as “Heads or Tails” (which was won by Gary Judson, who donated his $620 in winnings back to the Foundation), a “magic box” game, and a “party in a box” draw.
There also was a penny table, silent auction, and a live auction with auctioneer Joey Payeur.
Melanie Williams of Party Rock DJ Services was emcee for the evening while entertainment was provided by “Gregoire, The Astonisher,” who amazed those on hand with marvellous magical feats.