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This article was published 4/5/2015 (1566 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
STARRY STARRY NIGHT: People who'd never seen Fund-a-Cure in action felt like they were seeing stars by the time the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation gala wound up on April 25 at the RBC Convention Centre.
Auctioneer Jeff Kingsbury asked the audience to raise their paddles and give big money, starting at $15,000 and going down to $100.
"Who's in for $15,000?" he announced. Silence, until one brave hand finally went up. "Thank you so much! Now, who's in for $10,000?" Quickly, another bidder. In less than an hour Kingsbury had collected $172,800 from the crowd, on top of the usual prize auctions.
Event donors got a brown teddy bear to take home from the army of kids, many of whom have diabetes. About 630 attendees brought in $450,000 for the gala, said Dorothy Ross, the foundation's Western Canada regional director.
"It's amazing this year. We were so excited — we got over what we had budgeted," Ross said.
Lily St. James, an athletic little girl with Type 1 diabetes, spoke to the crowd just before the fund-a-cure event. She stood at the podium with her mother Natalie and dad Tim nearby, and voiced her strong belief that diabetes will be cured. Then she gave her mom a big bear hug for pictures.
After her speech, Lily swished her party dress and said, "I feel like a princess!"
VIPs in attendance included MLAs Kerri Irvin-Ross, Jim Rondeau, Myrna Driedger and St. Boniface federal Liberal candidate Dan Vandal plus gala founders Tannis Richardson and Myrna Weiszner; Grant and Shannon Johnson from Johnson Waste Management; Ramona and Ed Gallos from Master Roofing; Blair Smith from Great-West Life; Jay Forbes, the new chairman at MTS; Kevin Melsted from Basar; Dr. Wayne Hildahl from the Pan Am Clinic; Peak of the Market's Larry McIntosh; gala co-chairs Mike and Tannis Scott; endocrinologist Dr. Heather Dean; and Gamma-Dynacare's Dr. Jenisa Naidoo; neurosurgeon Dr. Joe Silvaggio; and internal medicine physician Dr. Nick Hajidiacos.
DREAM MAKERS AUCTION: Most emotional moment at the Dream Factory's gala? A standing ovation for retiring executive director Grace Thomson. She has been with the organization that fulfils dreams for kids who battle life-threatening illnesses, for 27 years.
"The first year we only raised $4,000. Last year's event raised $370,000," said Thomson, who had a gift of red roses in her arms and tears in her eyes.
Money is still coming in but they know they surpassed last year's total. They had more than 700 people at this year's dinner on April 24, and $20,000 in donations before the gala began.
Thomson says a dream gives children a positive focus and fulfilling that dream also provides memories for the child's family. "One mom phoned after her child had died to let me know her son was up there on Splash Mountain. That's how she saw him," she said.
The Suzio family got up to the podium and mom Suzanne spoke about her nine-year-old son Madox. He received a dream trip to Disney World just three months before he died last August, and she let the audience know what fulfilling his dream meant to him.
She said he'd had many treatments but at Disney World he could have fun and swim in the pool with the other kids and play like a child again. A family video, which brought tears from many in the audience, showed a boy who was enjoying his dream to the hilt.
Major donor Jim Gauthier was there to purchase dreams. Also spotted: Myrna Kines and her family from Venture Health Care, who bought the first dream for $20,000, which sent a hopeful child to Disney World for an Ariel Princess dream. A private suite for a Winnipeg Jets game next season went for $30,000. The Kines family bought one and Gary MacDonald from MacDon bought a second one at the same price.
Also on the scene were Tom Ambrosie from Ambrosie Electrical; DeLuca Fine Wines' Scott and Kate Holden; MJ Roofing's Larry Willman; Lehigh Cement's Jeff Doerksen; 24-7 Intouch's Carmyn Aleshka; Fillmore Riley's Stuart Blake; and Dr. Chris Hohl from Children's Hospital, who is also the Dream Factory's new medical adviser.
TIME TUNNEL: Step into the tiny new '50s-style restaurant 1958 that just opened on the corner of Westminster Avenue and Walnut Street and you'll find yourself in an aqua-blue diner with Arborite tables in yellow and grey.
Want a soda? There are '50s-style stools around a counter with 12 ice cream flavours (even Tiger Tiger) and antique green triple-milkshake makers. Owner Ross Jeffers recently opened the doors, and already has a group of regulars. They come for the hearty comfort foods that change every day, like his fresh clubhouse sandwiches and old-fashioned meatloaf and sinful desserts.
"I did this after 30 years of commercial printing and constant downsizing and now I'm doing something I love," said Jeffers.
Why did he call his diner 1958? "That's my birth year and my wife says this place is all about me," he said. "I love old stuff and I don't care if I don't make much money. This old cash register makes me happy just looking at it."
Jeffers also sends food over to a nearby soup kitchen. "Don't make me mist over," he said. "But I feel deeply (that) nobody should go hungry."
STYLISH OPENING: It was hipster heaven Thursday night at the ultra-cool Alt Hotel grand opening.
Geometric hairdos, skinny jeans and artsy tattoos — and that was just the guys — filled several banquet rooms on the eighth-floor of the chic boutique hotel, located across the street from the MTS Centre.
Guests nibbled on mini duck tacos, kimchee shrimp wraps and tiny guacamole ice-cream cones from the Merchant Bar and Kitchen as a DJ spun tunes suited to the techno-geeks in the crowd.
SPOTTED: Alt Hotel owners Christiane and Jean-Yves Germain; Alt Hotel manager Liane Reeves; Mark Chipman, the co-owner of the Winnipeg Jets and chairman of True North Sports and Entertainment; federal Liberal candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette; Manitoba Music's Anthony Augustine and Sean McManus; members of indie-pop band Royal Canoe; Mayor Brian Bowman; gallery owner Howard Gurevich; Baked Expectations owner Beth Grubert; travel writer Karen Burshtein; Managed Sales Pros owner Carrie Simpson; Tourism Winnipeg's Cody Chomiak and Derek Pang; and from the Free Press: city editor Shane Minkin and business writer Martin Cash.
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Updated on Monday, May 4, 2015 at 9:48 AM CDT: Fixes cutline information.