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Town Talk: Crystal Ball raises $3.8 million for BC Children’s Hospital


Dazzle-dressed Zynth & Co. dancers backed stand-up comedian Jon Gagnon in the Rocky Mountaineer station where he MC’d the hospitality industry’s 15th annual Golden Owl awards festivities.


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CRYSTAL CLEARING: Jennifer Johnston chaired the Crystal Ball for the third time recently, benefiting the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation. The 33rd annual event reportedly raised $3.8 million. Foundation president-CEO Teri Nicholas and board chair Lisa Hudson said that sum will help fund the hospital’s Next Generation Technologies program to study youngsters’ entire genetic makeup. Data thus derived should eliminate many painful, invasive tests while providing speedier diagnoses for hitherto hard-to-identify ailments.


B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation board chair Lisa Hudson and Crystal Ball chair Jennifer Johnston saw that 33rd annual event reportedly raise $3.8 million.

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A former Crystal Ball chair, Steph Nicolls, said the role entailed “three times the work I expected, but the result was 10 times what I expected.” Current chair Johnston would doubtless agree. So would Crystal Ball founder and honorary lifetime chair Isabelle Diamond, whose late husband Charles barely survived polio at age 15. That was in 1949, two years after Crippled Children’s Hospital was renamed B.C. Children’s Hospital, and 33 years before today’s 28th-at-Oak complex opened. Following Ms. Diamond’s impetus, the Crystal Ball has reportedly raised $38 million.


Retired radiologist Alan Diamond accompanied mother Isabelle to the Crystal Ball she founded and that has raised $38 million for B.C. Children’s Hospital.

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END OF SEASON: After three decades at the Four Seasons Hotel, which will soon vacate its Pacific Centre premises, the Crystal Ball will need a new locale for 2020.


Retired NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joined Melita and Lorne Segal when they hosted the traditional pre-WE Day dinner in their Southlands homes.

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WE FOUR: School students filled Rogers Arena recently for Craig and Marc Kielburger’s annual WE Day rally. The brothers also attended a 10th annual pre-event dinner in Lorne and Melita Segal’s home. Craig was 13 in 1995 when he founded the Free The Children campaign that became WE Day 12 years later. He is 37 now. Marc is 42. Many youngsters today have the Extinction Rebellion movement and fellow teen Greta Thunberg literally sailing the Atlantic to inspire them. The two-decade Kielburgers-Segal relationship include working on projects in Kenya.


Then-B.C. premier Christy Clark joined since-deceased former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan at a WE Day benefit dinner in the Segal home in 2013.

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WE Day founder Craig Kielburger (right) and brother Marc welcomed South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu to the 2012 event and a night-before banquet.

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Guests at the recent Segal dinner included pro basketball’s famed “sky hook” practitioner Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who retired in 1989 — before current WE Day celebrants were born. NBA stars Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal attended earlier dinners, along with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Virgin maestro Sir Richard Branson and assorted senior politicians. This year’s sole example, Kim Campbell, was Canada’s 133-day prime minister in 1993, two years before Craig Kielburger got the WE Day ball rolling.


Former international model Joleen Mitton staged her second Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week with some 20 designers participating.

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DRESSING UPWARD: Some fashion designers and manufacturers have successfully tapped the mainstream market with garments featuring coastal First Nations motifs. Former international model Joleen Mitton took a broader and more politicized view when she founded Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week in 2017. Running again recently, it featured some 20 Indigenous designers in three differently themed events that featured glamorous garments, future streetwear, leather, etc. East Vancouver-raised Mitton, who is part Plains Cree, said that runway models and production crew were trained by the Pacific Association of First Nations Women’s Mentor Me program “that empowers Indigenous youth to see themselves represented in a truly beautiful and vibrant way.”

WHAT A HOOT: Vancouver’s hospitality industry rated its own recently when the 15th annual Golden Owl awards event (goldenowlawards.com) filled the Rocky Mountaineer station. Twenty-two category winners included The Parlour for atmosphere and Chambar for service. The Alibi Room was best pub, the Keefer best late-night lounge, and the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Lobby best hotel lounge. Fortune Sound Club won for nightclub, Downlow Chicken Shack for food, and the Shameful Tiki Room for cocktails. Top Table was named restaurant group of the year, and Yuk Yuks won for comedy experience. Standup comedian Jon Gagnon deserved a trophy himself for handling MC chores with the precision and grace of girlfriend and Ballet B.C. dancer Emily Chessa.


In happier days, Royal Thames Yacht Club commodore Prince Andrew presented the 1775-founded club’s burgee to Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.

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HELLO SAILOR: He’s in hot water today, but Prince Andrew’s 2003 Vancouver visit was purely the blue-and-salty kind. And, like Yaletown’s Blue Water restaurant, dining was involved. As commodore of the 1775-founded Royal Thames Yacht Club (brother Charles is a patron), the sailor prince presented its burgee — royal crown on a white-on-blue Cumberland cross — to Royal Vancouver Yacht Club’s then commodore, John Dew. That done, he cut a blue ribbon to launch the Point Grey club’s Star & Dragon family dining room, then vamoosed without tucking into fish and chips, still a relative bargain at $14.


Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson and 19 other city chefs staged Kitchen Aide to raise $15,000 for the Mind The Bar Foundation’s mental-health programs.

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KITCHEN HELP: Restaurant kitchen workers know that heat, pressure, hours and even remuneration can challenge their mental health. In response, 15 city chefs and four bartenders contributed to an inaugural fundraiser titled Kitchen Aide. Held in Richards Street’s Café Medina, it reportedly raised $15,000 for the Mind The Bar Foundation that serves those “dealing with thoughts of suicide, depression, anxiety, and workplace harassment.” Admitting to being helped “when I was in a dark place,” Published restaurant’s Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson hoped Kitchen Aide will “support cooks who wouldn’t otherwise have the means.” Meanwhile, his cured scallop, kohlrabi kraut and XO sauce should comfort anybody.

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Remember Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, also Ancient Greek historian-warrior Thucydides’ warning that humankind’s gravest failings include “want of sense, of courage, or of vigilance.”

malcolmparry@shaw.ca
604-929-8456

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