Riverside Foundation Gala celebrates 25 years of supporting health care

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

After a long COVID-induced absence, the Riverside Foundation for Healthcare Fall Gala returns this weekend at La Place Rendez-Vous to help celebrate 25 years of giving in the district.

Sponsored by MNP, this year’s Gala is set to run this Saturday, October 22, 2022, and marks 25 years of the Riverside Foundation for Healthcare raising money to help support health care in the Rainy River District. Foundation director Allison Cox said they have been hard at work planning out the return to an in-person gala after two years of virtual events and other fundraising campaigns taking its place, but she’s expecting the evening to be sold-out and a fabulous time for those in attendance.

“We’ve had a lot of sponsors come on board this year, along with some new ones that we haven’t seen supporting in the past,” Cox said.

“This is the first in-person event that the Foundation is doing in general since COVID, so it’s a pretty big deal, and to couple that it’s the Foundation’s 25th anniversary this year, so it worked out just in time that we were able to host a live event again in time to celebrate the 25th anniversary.”

In order to really capitalize on the anniversary, Cox said they have been focusing on that special number and trying to incorporate it into the night’s festivities in different ways.

“We have been incorporated for 25 years, which means 25 years of supporting healthcare close to home,” Cox said.

“We have a few different raffles that highlight that number. We were also very lucky to receive a generous donation from WestJet for a round-trip flight for two to anywhere that they fly, so we’re doing a special 25th anniversary raffle.”

In addition to the special raffles, the night will also see some 25th anniversary modifications to classic gala favourites like Heads or Tails, which will temporarily be rebranded as “Twos or Fives.” Other steadfast activities will include the penny tables, silent auctions and a live auction with Telford Advent, whom Cox said is donating his services once more and is always one of the highlights of the annual gala.

“We also still have our grand prize, which is always very popular, which is $1,000 in booze,” Cox said.

“This year we have received a donation of a wine cooler to go along with that. There are plenty ways for people to show their support at the Gala. Lots of different raffles, auction items, ways to support other than just attending and having a nice evening out.”

The Gala is traditionally a well-attended event, and Cox said that popularity is indicative of the community’s propensity for giving generously and supporting the Foundation over the years. Marking off 25 years in services is no small feat, and Cox shared some figures that really help to drive home all that the Foundation has accomplished through their years of work and community support.

“25 years is a huge milestone and it’s a testament to the generosity of the entire district,” she said.

“In 25 years we have received $11.5-million in donations from the public and through capital campaigns, but wouldn’t include any of the galas or luncheons or fundraisers, lotteries, that sort of stuff. It’s amazing that that’s what has come through, and because of that we have been able to transfer over to Riverside Healthcare $10.4 million for the purchase of medical equipment and for upgrades to facilities.”

Like anything the Foundation does, this year’s Gala is also raising money to continue the mission of helping healthcare close to home. Funds raised through the gala will be put towards a second Panda Warmer machine for La Verendrye General Hospital (LVGH), a critical piece of equipment that Cox said has been specifically requested.

“Dr. Jenks and Dr. Halvorsen have both been requesting a second one for some time now, they think it will be quite beneficial to have the same equipment in both of the birthing rooms at LVGH,” Cox explained.

Telford Advent works the crowd to get a higher bid for one of the live auction items in this file photo from the Riverside Foundation for Healthcare’s 2019 Black and White Gala at the Cop- per River Inn. The ever-popular and entertaining Advent will be back at this Saturday’s Gala to help celebrate the Foundation’s 25th anniversary. – File photo

“What it is, it’s a portable unit that is used when a baby is born. It can be taken right into the OR with the mothers as well if C-sections are needed. It measures all the vital signs while keeping the baby warm. It’s also used in infant resuscitation. That was one thing that Dr. Jenks was really looking forward to, it aids the nursing staff with resuscitation rates. It has a price tag of about $60,000, which is more than our Galas usually raise, so the Christmas appeal this year will also be going towards the panda warmer.”

With 25 years of incorporation under their belt, and many more years to come of helping to build and sustain healthcare in the Rainy River District, Cox said the Riverside Foundation for Health Care has benefited greatly from the people of the district, which could be surprising considering the smaller number of people who live within its borders than other larger centres. Cox, however, sees the smaller and stronger sense of community within the district as a strength.

“I think that’s actually one of our benefits here,” she said.

“Because it is a small region, everyone realizes the importance of keeping health care local and supporting Riverside so that we can continue to offer the services that are offered here. It’s great to be organizing in-person events again, it’s a good thing to be busy for and we’re really looking forward to seeing everybody on Saturday night and having a great time with everyone again.”