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This article was published 15/10/2018 (979 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The 33rd annual Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Gala was a golden success! In one year, the organization doubled attendance at the event to 820 people, and filled up the fancy new main-floor RBC Convention Centre venue on Sept. 28 with a guest list of Winnipeg who’s who all dressed to the nines.
Better still, they raised $750,000 to support cancer patients. The Baranyk family — particularly Eleane, Lenny Jr., Jason and Jeffrey — gave it a huge push. Why? They lost their beloved father, Leonard Baranyk Sr., to cancer just two weeks after he agreed to be the honorary chairman for the 2018 Daffodil Gala. They jumped in and took over that position, together as a family, for their dad, with one mission in mind: to raise money for research to finally find a cure for cancer.
Son Lenny Jr., who had everybody reaching for their tissues, spoke lovingly of his dad and his deep desire to find a new treatment. His father was diagnosed with end-stage cancer, so he didn’t have chemo or radiation, but managed to live on unexpectedly for years by taking a new type of medication. The family facilitated a gift of $150,000 in his name to start the ball rolling at the fundraising event after dinner.
Money raised at the gala will fund a Manitoba researcher to the tune of $50,000 (the Leonard Baranyk Sr. Research Grant); secure $21,500 to fund brain cancer research through Brain Canada; provide the Wheels of Hope transportation service with $341,500 (the Manitoba service, plus transportation across the Prairies); fund wigs and breast prosthetics for Manitoba women; provide additional funds for research, clinical trials and other support programs for cancer patients and their families, and acknowledge and support volunteers who provide thousands of hours of service to cancer patients every year.
Spotted: CTV news anchor Maralee Caruso; Saffron’s restaurant owner John Kolevris; Sue Deighton of ReMax Performance; Earl and Cheryl Barish of Salisbury House; John and Christine Watson of Roger Watson Jewellers; Jorden Harvey of Maxim Truck and Trailer; Gene Fraser and wife Sheri Betker of MacDon Industries; Brian Lowes of Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg; Bob Friesen and Marnie Strath, and Leonard and Donna Friesen of Landau Ford Lincoln; Elmer Gomes and partners from TDS LLP; MNP partner Brian Beveridge; Jason and Carrie Madden of Midas; and Carmen Nedohin, Daffodil Gala chair woman, and her husband Rick Barker.
KEEPING UP WITH THE BIRDS: Everywhere they go, people say, "Who are those two lovebirds?" They’re talking about Vern Coot Bird and Gwen Bird — barely out of the newlywed stage in their mid-60s, looking like movie stars together. They are truly eye-catching — he’s tall, slim, silver-haired and handsome, and she’s blond, willowy and graceful. Gwen has owned a daycare for several decades and is known as the Baby Whisperer, and Vern is an actor, real estate investor and former martial artist.
Aside from their day jobs, the couple dances for fun and fitness in Winnipeg clubs and legions four or five nights a week, sometimes hitting three spots in one night for one set each. They follow their favourite band, the Biivvers (people call them Biivver Believers).
The openly affectionate pair have also appeared as extras in many locally shot films. "Can you believe this?" Vern asks. "In one movie, they paid us to dance!"
They fell in love almost at first sight. Vern sighs, "She just walked into the legion wearing this beautiful red dress!" He was a goner. Later, at their second "chance" meeting — helped along by matchmaking friends — he put out his hand and said to Gwen romantically, "Come and dance with me."
She said, "Then you’ll have to run with me." And so he did, working up his time block by block.
When he was ready, they got married on the run, entering a race in Las Vegas partly because it had a "run-through wedding chapel" on the route.
Says Gwen, "We ran the first part of the race until we hit the run-through, got married there, and ran the last part of the race!" It may not have been their best time, but it was their greatest race yet.
ROCK THE MIC IS BACK! The popular live-band open-mic singing event headed up by band leader Danny Kramer attracted 200 people a night for many years to the upstairs level of both casinos — and people loved it. But the amateur singers weren’t big imbibers and there was no cover charge; the casinos finally closed it down, leaving a big vacuum for people who wanted to feel what it was like to be onstage with real musicians backing them.
But now they have a new venue! "I’m really excited," Kramer says. "We’re booked for four Thursday nights in November at Assiniboia Downs to see how it goes, and we’ll be set up on the main floor."
Says the band leader: "There’s great pub food and Thursday nights is also the prime rib buffet upstairs." Hot tip: if you want to be one of the first performers, sign-up starts at 6 p.m.; singing starts at 7 p.m. The band has 900 songs in its repertoire. Many Winnipeg musicians such as Nadia Douglas, now singing in clubs, dining rooms and jazz festivals, got their start at Rock the Mic by coming every week to sing in front of working professional musicians.
The event will draw a big crowd of former regulars the first night, so go early.
Got tips on cool events, new restaurants, businesses opening? Been rubbing shoulders with the stars? Email Maureen’s Tips at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.