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‘A Night in Emerald City’ marks Bonnyville Health Foundation’s most successful gala to date

After a three-year hiatus, the Bonnyville Health Foundation’s 23rd annual fundraising gala smashed pervious fundraising records.

BONNYVILLE – The 23rd Bonnyville Health Foundation gala was undoubtedly an evening to remember and will be a tough act to follow in the years to come. 

After a month of crunching numbers and tallying totals, the Bonnyville Health Foundation’s executive director Dawn Weber announced on May 16 that the gala raised over $427,000 for local health initiatives. 

The record-breaking total was just what the doctor ordered after a three-year hiatus of the annual fundraising gala due to the pandemic. 

Making the April 15 event a success was countless community members, local organizations and businesses who volunteered their time, sponsored portions of the evening, contributed to live and silent auctions, and of course, those who pulled money from their wallets to invest in local health care. 

The 2023 comeback gala was out of this world as guests were transported to the Land of Oz with a theatrical production that was eight months in the making for the single evening performance. 

Each character from the Wizard of Oz, played by local actors, was used to signify needs and human qualities in the community. 

Hosting the gala was Glinda, the Good Witch played by Aimee Alger, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West played by Jacob Leveque. 

Starting the evening off with some wisdom and fashionable red shoes, Dorothy, played by Allison Lefebvre, reminded everyone that there is no place like home. She also highlighted the benefits of supporting local healthcare.   

The Scarecrow, performed by Rohdy Reed, highlighted the importance of “Being Kind to your Mind.”  

A total of $33,900 was raised in a matter of minutes for mental health initiatives and the health foundation's Tyler Chislett Memorial Fund. 

After dinner, the audience was welcomed by ‘The Lollipop Guild' made up of volunteers from the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority who helped with a flash sale of 100 vintage lollipops for $100 each.  

This initiative was sponsored by Home Hardware Bonnyville and gave lollipop buyers the chance to win one of 18 cash prizes. In less than 10 minutes, a total of $11,000 was raised for the foundation’s Long Term Care Department Fund. 

Speaking to 'The heart of our community,’ the Tin Man, played by Alan Milne, expressed gratitude to the many sponsors that made the event possible. 

This year’s gala received record-breaking sponsorship support in the amount of $174,000.  

Bonnyville Health Foundation’s Board Chair Amber Hughes raised a glass to toast the late Victor Ringuette and the Ringuette Family for their decades of support to the foundation. B&R Eckel's Transport Ltd. was the evening’s $20,000 presenting sponsor. 

The finale performance had audience members in tears as the Lion, played by Megan Bailey, performed a live rendition of Unstoppable by Sia.  

As the Lion entered the stage, she was followed by six patients dressed in hospital gowns, masks and hair wraps. At the end of the song, those on the stage disrobed from their patient attire to reveal themselves as six local cancer survivors who have embodied the ultimate courage through their cancer journey. 

Following the musical performance, $10,500 was raised for the Bonnyville Community Cancer Clinic Fund through the generous donations of GenMec ACL and Cenovus Energy. 

Live auctions, silent auctions and online auctions raised over $100,000 for the Bonnyville Health Foundation Area of Greatest Need Fund. 

Date set for 2024 

Planning for next year’s gala will officially begin next month, but a date has already been set for the 24th annual gala – April 13, 2024.  

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Bonnyville Health Foundation’s 2024 gala, can contact the foundation’s executive director by text at 780-201-3079.

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