GIFT INDEED: Chaired by Shanni Eckford, Karley Rice and Merideth Schutter, the 14th annual Gift of Time gala reportedly raised a record $1.5 million for the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. Its title had special significance for Cherie Ehlert, a support worker at the posAbilities Association of B.C. that serves those with development disabilities. In her case, the gift of time applies to daughter and Canuck Place occupant Charlie, who contracted spinal muscular atrophy at age six months. “She was given three months to live then,” Ehlert recalled. “Now she’s nine, and they have developed treatment for her that they never had before.”
Ehlert well knows Canuck Place’s Detroit-raised medical director and UBC pediatrics clinical professor, Hal Siden, who recalled an odd personal-development practice. It entailed a grandfather teaching him bow-tie knotting, with every error penalized by Siden swallowing a shot of bourbon. The practice likely continued at Siden’s University of Michigan-Ann Arbor alma mater, but not as part of the curriculum.
JINGLE-JANGLE-JINGLE: The Boobyball’s rip-roaring launch last year spurred Speedo swimwear salesperson Kelly Townsend to repeat it. Restaged at the Main-off-Hastings Imperial, the event reportedly raised $48,000 for the Rethink Breast Cancer charity that “responds to the unique needs of young women going through it. Western-attired under-40s yippie-ki-yayed, rode a mechanical bull, watched a Luminesque Dance performance, and doubtless hoped that breast cancer will be vanquished well within those young dancers’ lifetimes.
STREET DREAMS: 50 successful persons are raising at least $15,000 each in order to sleep on concrete pavement on Nov. 15. Covenant House development officer Kim Wing said the Sleep Out: Executive Edition event should raise $900,000 for the organization’s 59-bed crisis program that assists homeless and at-risk youth. At a preamble event hosted by actor TV-host Todd Talbot in Kohler’s Broadway-at-Fir showroom, Wing admitted she’ll catch no shut-eye herself that night: “I’m the security, and its humbling to see executives sleeping outside, knowing that, through the wall, are the youth they are supporting.”
ON A ROLL: Nonchalantly eyeballing a row of important plumbing fixtures at Talbot’s reception, the Covenant House supporter and Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel general manager, Sascha Voth, said: “We’ve got over 1,000 of these Kohler toilets in the hotel.”
STAYIN’ ALIVE: Twenty years ago, Al Arsenault, Toby Hinton and a small group of other Vancouver police officers founded the Odd Squad. With the National Film Board, they documented their on-the-street activities with drug users in a 52-minute movies called Through A Blue Lens. Arsenault retired, Hinton is now a sergeant, and other active and retired coppers have joined Odd Squad Productions. The focus on drug abuse remains, most recently in the Understanding Fentanyl resource guide for every B.C. school. Rather than lecture youths, who die at home more often than on the streets, it hopes to “demonstrate an understanding of (fentanyl’s) danger in our communities.” At a recent fundraising gala, Hinton said a guide and 35-minute video titled Understanding Police Use of Force will follow, co-produced by the Canadian Police Association.
Gala entertainers included the Police Judo Demo Team with Hinton’s black-belt daughter Launa throwing brown-belt member Howie Hoang around. Watching raptly, young girls may have imagined doing the same to their brothers.
ALLEY ECLAT: The HCMA Architecture + Design firm has received a National Urban Design Award for its More Awesome Now Laneway Activation project that does much to enhance shabby downtown alleys.
THAT’S COMMITMENT: Charity gala chairs sometimes serve second or third terms. Then there’s Mary Jane Devine, who retired last year after chairing 13 successive Rockin’ for Research galas to benefit the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation. Loverboy band lead guitarist Paul Dean sparkplugged that event in 2000 after his and wife Denise’s son Jake developed Type 1 diabetes. A U.S. gig kept Dean away from the recent Casablanca-themed event and its reported $890,000 haul. Devine accompanied the gala committee’s Carol Hagan, who fronted the event. Pizza Hut Restaurants executive Sheida Shakib-Zadeh was honoured for her employer’s $350,000 contribution to diabetes research. Attendees then dined on chicken salad and grilled beef tenderloin, not pizza.
IN THE SWIM: Glass-walled tanks of possibly hungry fish surrounded those attending Vancouver Aquarium’s recent Toast the Coast fundraiser. The ocean-conservation event’s wine-tasting component likely sharpened guests’ appetites further. Happily, 17 Ocean Wise-certified stations offered such chow as Notch8 chef Will Lew’s scallops with smoked sablefish, birch kabayaki, flamed oyster-tip aioli, pickled wild berries, sea asparagus and nori sand. They went well with Ocean Blu’s Coastal Berry vodka soda that reportedly diverts 25 cents from six-pack sales to ocean and wildlife programs. Peering out at CTV News anchor Sonia Beeksma’s glittering, silver-and-gold mermaid gown, Aquarium tank residents may have silently invited her to join them.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Beseeched by a possibly self-serving coalition government to endorse a pig-in-a-poke electoral system, B.C. voters could deliver a poke of their own — in the eye.