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This article was published 17/6/2017 (365 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Talk about magic.
Although the tally has yet to be finalized, from $350,000 to $400,000 was raised for the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre last week, centred around four sold-out shows by illusionist Darcy Oake at the Burton Cummings Theatre from June 6 to 9.
That total included a matching donation of up to $200,000 from Winnipeg philanthropists Bonnie and John Buhler.
Bruce Oake died in 2011 of a drug overdose. His parents, CBC broadcaster Scott Oake and wife Anne, along with brother Darcy, have since been dedicated to opening a $14-million, long-term recovery centre for drug addicts in Winnipeg.
"It’s hard to explain the dynamic and the energy," Darcy Oake said, of the shows in the 1,100-seat venue. "To do something that’s so close and personal. And at the same time there was lot of material I had been working on and hadn’t seen an audience. So there was a number of reasons why it made this run so special for me. And we raised a ton of money and awareness.
"I’ve always had this inner dilemma," Oake added. "It’s something I’m so passionate about that I would do it for free. At the end of the day when you’re asking people to take out their wallets and pay for something that you would do for free. Sometimes, I feel a little... guilty, in a sense, because I get as much out of it as the audience does.
"But in this situation that feeling wasn’t there because everybody knew why we were doing it."
In addition to ticket sales, there were more than $20,000 in donations — including one of $10,000 from a donor who wished to remain anonymous. The $14,000 rent fee was donated by True North Sports and Entertainment, which owns the theatre.
"It was amazing in the sense of support, the outreach, the donations. Everything," Oake noted.
"It wasn’t just me standing on the stage performing a show. It was so much more than that. And I think that was felt in the room.
"That (spontaneous donations) was just out of the kindness of people’s hearts. When I heard about that ($20,000) number, that hit home for me big-time. It was overwhelming."
Even the owner of a private parking lot located near the theatre donated profits from nights of the shows.
"I hesitate to mention the amount we donated for it is not advertisement or attention to us that we want but the wonderful work for a much needed facility," the owner said, requesting anonymity.
"There was so many things like that," Oake said.
"It’s just the thought. When people are willing to do that, whether it’s one dollar or $100,000, that just says to me it’s resonating with people. It speaks volumes to this case and how it’s affecting people."
Oake said the awareness around drug overdoses, especially as it relates to opioids, is growing. And so is word of their proposed treatment centre.
Last week, in an obituary for a 32-year-old man who died of a drug overdose, the family asked that donations be made to the Bruce Oake Foundation.
"The message is reaching people," he said. "It just shows that people share a very similar situation a lot of times. It’s very unfortunate... (but) it makes it mean something."
"Right now, it really feels like it’s going to happen. It doesn’t feel like a pipe dream. It feels like everything’s in place. We have the support of the community. We have the support of the municipal and provincial governments. The stepping stones are in place. It’s on its way.
"We can’t slow down. We have to make this happen, one way or another."
The Oakes say they are close to acquiring a piece of land large enough for the 35,000-square-foot facility.
In the last four years, there were 61 deaths in Manitoba directly or indirectly caused by fentanyl, the chief medical examiner’s office says, with more autopsy reports to be completed.
Oake said he hopes the fundraising shows in Winnipeg will become an annual event.
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Randy Turner has spent much of his journalistic career on the road. A lot of roads. Dirt roads, snow-packed roads, U.S. interstates and foreign highways. In other words, he’s got a lot of kilometres on the odometer, if you know what we mean.