Hundreds of community members gathered at Spruce Meadows on Aug. 17 to eat delicious food, enjoy live entertainment, participate in a live auction, and, most importantly, support the Foothills Country Hospice.
The Hospice Gala has been a community tradition for longer than the 11 years the hospice has had its doors open, and this year showed that support isn’t going anywhere: over $250,000 was raised at the gala, with more donations coming in.
“It just kind of restores my faith in humanity, just to see the generosity and support that we get from people in Okotoks and the surrounding areas,” said Dawn Elliott, executive director of the Foothills Country Hospice. “The hospice means so much to so many, and we couldn’t do what I think we do so well without all of their support.
“It just makes my heart very happy.”
Elliott said the galas were running before the opening of the hospice to aid in getting it going, but the rally was added last year to shake things up.
“Our first car rally actually raised more money than any of our other events prior to that, so we weren’t sure if it was just a one-off because it was our 10th anniversary or because it was just something unique and different,” she said.
A one-off Rally for Hospice it was not, with this year’s 50 slots for cars sold out.
“That was three more than we had last year, and we pretty much had a sell-out as far as the gala went, too,” said Elliott.
Those in attendance for the rally and gala are there for more than a good time — they contribute much needed financial support to keep the hospice running and able to provide top-quality end-of-life care.
“It means a lot because we only receive a certain percentage of funding from Alberta Health Services and we have to raise $1.3 million per year,” said Elliott. “So this goes a long way in helping us reach that objective.”
The gala took after the rally going fast and furious with two of the biggest draws: the live auction and the wild card auction, where guests can submit items or services for auction.
One attendee of both the gala and rally was Julie Boake, owner of Awedity Creative, who was the recipient of an honour that will be remembered: number one, and the biggest loser of the rally.
“Well, we were the first car to register, the first car to be off the line,” said Boake. “But we came in last, after everybody else and we may have stopped and enjoyed the sights of small town Alberta while we were at it.”
Witnesses reported seeing her and Andrea Reinheimer, Boake’s navigator for the rally and long-time friend, shopping in Black Diamond, in particular.
“You know, you gotta support local, you gotta support your local shops, and if you don’t always have the chance to get out there, this is the perfect opportunity,” she said with a laugh. “And it’s for a great cause, and this is probably one of the major causes that reminds you to stop and enjoy the day, and just go out and have fun and live every minute. It was the perfect day.”
She had the 1993 Honda Del Sol for the rally.
“I joke that it was probably one of the least expensive cars that was in the rally, it was as powerful as a blow dryer, but it was so much fun," said Boake. “We took the top off, we had a blast, blared some 90’s music. It was great.”
A participant in the rally for both years now, Boake has been involved from the very beginning: she did the graphic design for the brochures.
She highly recommended doing the rally in teams of friends, fathers and sons, or mothers and daughters.
“You’re spending about four hours just laughing and challenging each other in the car. Less for couples, we found there was a couple of domestics last year,” she joked. “But a lot of fun with friends.”
For Boake, supporting the hospice has no finish line in sight.
“What gets you about these events is how much everyone comes together and they give, and what the hospice actually means for our entire community,” she said. “Three hundred people in one room to support something is a pretty monumental thing for any organization.
“It just says something about the care that they provide.”
For more information or to donate to the Foothills Country Hospice, go here.