The Children's Rehabilitation Foundation Night of Miracles lit up the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg on Saturday, Oct. 19, with 471 guests in a royal blue ambiance. Lively youth ambassador Andrew Fenwick, a real firecracker, told the crowd, "I want to be a lawyer. It's the only thing I'm good at -- arguing!" He stood on crutches in front of the stage with beaming CRF executive director Christine Schollenberg, holding the microphone. Fenwick is one of their favourite miracles. His appendix burst at age 10 and he woke up from a coma, able only to move his eyes. Eight years of rehab ensued, several at the pillared 633 Wellington Cres., day facility. Jane Daniels, a physiotherapist who worked very closely with Andrew, said that on difficult days ahead he should remember: "You can do anything you want, if you put your mind to it. You've already proved it!" The video of his struggle, rehab and ultimate success ended with fellow Churchill High School students cheering wildly as he walked across the stage to receive his high school diploma. Dinner guests grabbed for tissues. Fenwick is at the University of Manitoba this fall pursuing his dream, and nothing can stop him now.
When Danny Kramer's band started to sizzle, Fenwick, in a wheelchair, with a half-dozen of his besties around him, hit the dance floor to party. Schollengberg and co-chairs Brenda Evans and Darlene Braschuk buzzed around a room filled with VIPS. Spotted: Waverley Leduc, last year's ambassador child, onstage singing with the band, Winnipeg Boston Pizza owner Richard Enright, Loblaws' VP of Operations Al Jasper, RBC's VP of Commercial Glenn Crook; president and CEO of Procurity Wayne Rivers, Shaw Communications' Shelly Wiseman, Pat McNeil of PD Canada Trust, Dr. Juliette Cooper, who won a 2013 Woman of Distinction award for science and technology; Simon Burgess of Co-Element, Larry Wandowich of Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries and Merrilee Vanstraelen from Freedom Concepts. At the Winnipeg Free Press table: Publisher Bob Cox and wife, Lena Cox, an occupational therapist, along with Free Press associate editor Julie Carl, senior director of sales Tracy Mainland and husband, Brad Kramble, the VP of operations for Salisbury House, and author/teacher Nicole Alexander.
The event raised $125,000 after bills, said Schollenberg.
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Local standup comedian Chantel Marostica has won the prestigious "Funniest Person with a Day Job" contest at Rumor's Comedy Club. The contest is widely known as a big step to stardom in Canada and the U.S. Marostica has a repertoire of comedic voices, startling improv skills, and a mobile face she can manipulate like a piece of rubber.
"I was very excited and happy to win. I've always wanted to be a host at Rumor's and hopefully do some spots," says the 29-year-old. The Winnipeg comedy club has hosted hundreds of major comedy stars from entertainment meccas such as New York, L.A., Chicago, Las Vegas, Toronto and Montreal, and often hires local contest winners for guest hosting and intro acts. Talk about a great way to rub shoulders with helpful contacts! Marostica didn't lose any time cashing in on her title. One of her dreams came true Wednesday night at Rumor's, when she filled in for regular host Jordan Welwood. Later that night, she hit Ben Walker's Stand Up and Cheer showcase in Osborne Village along with contest runner-up Andy Noble, the night's headliner Ryan Ash, plus Adam Schwartz, Dan Goldberg, Jared Story, and Dan Robertson. And then former Winnipegger Aisha Alfa, now working out of Toronto, breezed in for a set.
Alfa, an actress/comedian, has been doing a lot of TV ads in Hogtown. As a "half white, half black woman" with a big Afro, she has a specific look. "I think I look friendly and approachable -- and as a woman of colour, I meet their quota!" she laughs. Alfa can be seen on TD Bank guitar party and Del Monte fruit cup ads. Recently, she's been touring with her new squeeze, Toronto comedian Dave Merheje, and they'll be performing Dec. 12 at The Park Theatre in a show called Family Affair the Holiday Edition.
"Oh, yes. We're in love!" she told the crowd. Tickets for that show are $15, or visit www.eventbrite.com.
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REBEL TO THE END: Now here's a book launch with a difference. Nick Ternette's memoir Rebel Without A Pause will be celebrated Monday, Nov. 4 at McNally Robinson Grant Park in the atrium at 7 p.m. There will be readings by his widow, Emily Ternette, United Church minister Glenn Morison, politico Judy Wasylycia-Leis and children's entertainer Fred Penner. This autobiography tells the tale of one of Winnipeg's smartest and noisiest political activists, who died earlier this year. Ternette was a political leftie who ran for mayor many times and was a frequent thorn in the side for politicians at city hall. His clear voice rang out over the heads of elected officials at all levels, persistently, for decades.
The crowd for this launch and celebration will be a unique mixture of friends and foes, as his gutsiness was admired by most everyone. The last few years of his life he spent as a double amputee in a wheelchair, still busy. This book was written before his death last March. Nick's provocative words will be heard again, even though he's gone. That would certainly amuse him!
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MYSTERY SOLVED: Why has nothing happened to the old Chicken Delight building looking forlorn and abandoned on the corner of Stafford and Corydon? Prince Mehta, a manager at the Portage Avenue location, says they got permission for a drive-through on the corner a while back, and the business will be a combination of a Harvey's and Swiss Chalet. But they haven't found someone to take on the Swiss Chalet side, yet. "It takes about three months to build," he says. "We hope to be starting in late February, if we find a franchisee by then."
Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 474-1116, email Maureen.Scurfield@Winnipegfreepress.com, or send letters to Maureen Scurfield c/o The Insider, 1355 Mountain Ave., R2X 3B6.