The virtual seventh annual Gift of Love gala raised more than $367,000 for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice on Saturday (Feb. 27).
The event, presented by MNP, welcomed hundreds of guests virtually from across B.C. and beyond.
Media personality and author Riaz Meghji and young actor Thailey Roberge hosted the show, which featured performances by the MEI Screaming Eagles Marching Band, Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir, and Abbotsford singer/songwriter Kassandra Clack.
Vancouver Canucks alumni Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Brendan Morrison, and Trevor Linden shared messages of gratitude with guests, recalling their personal connection to the children and families at Canuck Place.
“Canuck Place families continue to navigate the impact of COVID-19,” said Canuck Place CEO Dr. Tarnia Taverner.
“Families are experiencing fear, isolation, exhaustion and worry. Now, more than ever, these families rely on the care provided at Canuck Place. We are able to provide this care at no cost to families, all because of the generosity of donors in the community.”
Canuck Place mom Chelsea Ruf shared the story of her son, Colten, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA Type 1) and passed away at just four months old.
Canuck Place cared for the entire family, providing medical respite, end-of-life care, and bereavement counselling in home and at Canuck Place – Dave Lede House in Abbotsford.
“There was never a shortage of embraces from Canuck Place, or questions about Colten that came from a place of genuine interest and love,” Ruf said.
“When your child dies, people fear that if they talk about them it will make you sad so they avoid it. The truth is we are already sad. Saying his name and the opportunity to talk about our Colten reaffirms that he mattered and won’t be forgotten.”
Gala co-chairs Aprille Ferrario, Marcie Cyr and Suzanne Adams led the volunteer committee to reimagine the gala – normally held at Abbotsford Centre – into a virtual event.
Attendees had the opportunity to bid on several silent auction items, as well as support Canuck Place directly through Fund-A-Need.
The funds raised support the delivery of complex care for almost 820 children facing life-threatening illnesses and their families across B.C. More than 45 per cent of children and families on the Canuck Place program reside in the Fraser Health Region.