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Good times, good fundraising at annual CNIB lunch

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VISIONS LUNCHEON: How often do you get to leave the office at 11 a.m., go to a fancy-schmancy hotel for drinks and a three-course lunch and then laugh for 45 minutes at a top comedian such as Kelly Taylor before returning to your office at 2 p.m.? This is the hard life of the social column writer, people. This stellar event? The annual CNIB Visions Luncheon held Wednesday at the Fairmont.

MC Glenn Hildebrand introduced vice-chairman of the CNIB’s board, Lloyd Kuczek, who got up to say a few words, swearing he didn’t pay much heed to the many notes sent his way by the CNIB brass and the major sponsor Manitoba Hydro — about how great they were! Then he quoted them liberally, to their great delight. T’was an "up" fundraiser to be sure, sans guilt-inducing stories, but with a donations envelope discreetly on one side of the plate. After all, that’s why people came — to support the cause.

Just so you know, this $50 luncheon, which raised $50,000 for the cause, did have a few serious words for the luncheon gang. There are 36,000 people living with vision loss in Manitoba, and in 75 per cent of those cases, vision loss could be prevented if people had regular checkups. Yours truly saw a bunch of people hit their speed-dials after that little nugget of information.

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FIRST-DATE JUICY BITS: Baked Expectations, that bastion of tasty tortes and romance in Osborne Village, is celebrating 30 years of people meeting and falling in love under their roof. Owner Beth Grubert has been asking patrons who had their first date there to email their stories — bad or good — to www.bakedexpectations.com.

One happy example? "Dear Baked: My husband and I met on Lavalife in July 2003. On Aug. 7, 2003, we had our first real-life date — lunch at Baked Expectations. I had a salad and ran downstairs to the bathroom because I had braces on my teeth at the time, and had to make sure there wasn’t any food in my grill. On June 3, 2006, we were married and had our three-tier wedding cake from Baked Expectations, in honour of our wonderful first date." — Romeo and Juliet

"We’ve had at least 30 letters now, and we’re going to keep going," says Grubert, who goes the extra mile for romantics who met there. "For one fellow I hid a wedding ring in a cake. And another asked me to put a cake in the showcase that said, "Will You Marry Me?" with the girl’s name on it.

She says some guys have gotten down on one knee in the café, holding up their rings, and taking that big chance in front of the whole place.

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WHO KNEW DEPT: Who says dentists are boring? A quaking dental-phobe — writer Joanne Reid — gleefully tells the story of her first meeting with Winnipeg dentist Dr. Billy Kettner, who plays gangster Harry the Horse in Guys and Dolls this weekend at Prairie Theatre Exchange. "I was at the back of his old office in Wolseley, and he came down the hall and around the corner into the office where I was cowering in the chair. He was all hunched over, hand dragging, knuckles scraping the floor.

"As he swooped into the room, he called out, ‘Next victim!’ I was laughing way too hard to be phobic!"

Kettner and 18 other fun-loving Manitoba dentists play all the parts in the big production at PTE. For instance? Dr. Katie Davidson is Bible-thumpin’ goody-two-shoes Sarah Brown, Dr. Ken Hamin plays wedding-dodger Nathan Detroit, Dr. Tricia Magsino Barnabe plays his darlin’ Miss Adelaide, and Dr. Sam Paulos is the slick Sky Masterson. And you can bet Dr. Frank Hechter who plays Big Jule and Dr. Tom Colina, who portays Nicely-Nicely Johnson, are in for nicknames back at their offices. Dr. Khalida Hai-Santiago plays General Matilda B. Cartwright, Dr. Hoda Hosseini is Mimi and Dr. Tom Dobbs plays Arvide Abernathy. The show runs through Sunday.

You can check to see if your dentist is in the cast at www.pte.mb.ca/plays/fund-raisers.php.

Guys and Dolls is a fundraiser in support of the theatre in Portage Place, with part of the net proceeds going to CancerCare Manitoba for head and neck cancer patients.
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WHERE THE SINGLE MEN ARE: Ray Antymis, owner of multi-activity group Adventures for Successful Singles, says he has hit the motherlode — 50 players, mostly men, showing up for "fun baseball" on Wednesday night.

To be specific, these are middle-aged guys who have to show proof they are single to join the club. But where are the women? Better ID than you’d ever find at the bar, ladies: www.adventuresforsuccessfulsingles.com.

Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen’s tip line at 204-474-1116, email Maureen.Scurfield@Winnipegfreepress.com, or send letters to Maureen Scurfield c/o The Insider, 1355 Mountain Ave., R2X 3B6.

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