Generosity was in the air at the 2nd annual Gift of Love Gala, held in February at the Ramada in Abbotsford to benefit the Canuck Place Childrens’ Hospice.
More than 300 people showed their love for B.C.’s pediatric palliative care provider by helping to raise $267,000 – an increase from last years $240,000.
The night was perfectly executed, offering an array of bidding items and an elegant ambiance in the ballroom, where guests enjoyed food and entertainment for hours. The highlight of the décor, however, was the table’s centerpieces, marked with the word “LOVE” and the handprint of a child currently at Canuck Place.
The evening opened with a beautiful song by the MEI choir, and then emcee Riaz Meghji thanked those who came out to the Fraser Valley to support the cause.
The event had several speakers, all with their own message of hope and resilience in the face of adversity. Lee Bass, from event sponsor MNP, reminded guests of the importance of savoring every drop of life.
“Being here is a tremendous reminder of how important it is to remember to live in the moment and savor the time we have with our loved ones,” Bass said. “Hearing the words children and palliative care in the same sentence seems inconceivable.”
Canuck Place CEO Margaret McNeil took the stage and reiterated the importance of events like the Gift of Love Gala.
“Life at Canuck place is about never taking anything for granted. Over 40% of the children and families in the Canuck Place program reside in the Fraser Health Region, so having this community support is truly special,” she said. “The funds raised at this event will help ensure we can continue to provide complex clinical care to children with life-threatening illnesses and support their families through incredibly challenging circumstances.”
Perhaps the most emotional part of the evening was the speech by a Canuck Place father, Andrew Putt, who lost his daughter Lilee-Jean to cancer in September 2013, two months shy of her birthday. The room was moved to tears as he sang a song dedicated to his little girl and then thanked Canuck Place for all they have done.
“She will always be my little girl, but I am unable to hold her, kiss her, play with her, or tell her that I love her anymore. We tried to pack a lifetime of fun and love into two and a half short years. It was an impossible task, but Lilee loved every special moment and that’s what mattered. Our only job was to be with Lilee and give her whatever she needed. We were able to do that, thanks to the staff at Canuck Place who took care of us.”
Canuck Place supports over 600 newborns, children, and families with illness, at no cost to them. They provide 24-hour around the clock care, art and education, grief and loss counseling and end-of-life care. Canuck Place is adding another house in Abbotsford, which is already underway. Once completed, it will double the current capacity to 18 patient beds and 9 family suites.