By Hege Bolthof Hoegler

After two years without a wine gala, we were very excited to be able to hold one this year. The fabulous event took place at the Terminal City Club in downtown Vancouver. Guests came from Victoria, Whistler, and all over the Lower Mainland to celebrate and support the Children’s Heart Network.

Attendees were welcomed with live piano, bubbly, and hors d’oeuvres. The room quickly filled up with people perusing and bidding on the more than 200 silent auction items. It was a challenging year to solicit donations, and we are extremely thankful for all the companies and individuals that donated to make this auction special.

Once it was time to take our seats, our beloved emcee John Emmet Tracy acknowledged the four Indigenous territories we were on, welcomed the guests with his witty humour, and started off with some fun stories from his latest acting gig on the TV show Yellowstone. It was clear he had some fans in the audience.

However, it was the Vasquez family that really stole everyone’s heart that night. Charles and his daughter Carlee told their heroic story of Carlee’s struggles with heart disease, the many other challenges that often come with having a heart condition, and the loss of their wife and mom to cancer. There were many wet eyes in the room, and Charles and Carlee received a heartfelt standing ovation at the end.

Guests were then served a baby spinach, almond, and strawberry salad to start, paired with The Hatch 2019 Gobsmacked Cyclops Love white wine donated by Jason Parkes Customs and Crown & Thieves Winery. For the entrée, guests had a choice between braised beef short rib, roasted lingcod, or quinoa vegetable galette. The 2018 Cabernet Franc was donated by Country Vines Winery. For dessert, a delicious salted caramel chocolate ganache cake was served with Quevedo Tawny Port donated by The Drinks List. Together with The View Winery, they also donated the welcome bubbly, a 2018 Pearls Traditional Brut.

The gala entranceway, tables, and chairs

After the silent auction closed, our incredible auctioneer Fred Lee took to the stage. With his oozing energy, he captured the room and in no time raised a whopping $26,300 for CHN’s Send a Kid to Camp program. Lee then went on to the five live auction items, which also were a huge success. As a bonus, John Emmet Tracy had managed to secure a very special Yellowstone merchandise collection that is not available to the public. The set arrived the evening before, and some devoted fans were eyeing it with excitement. It even included a replica of the vest Kevin Costner wore in the show.

It was then time for the “Rings on/off” game. Participants purchased a glowing heart ring that could be turned on or off. A coin was flipped for each round, and those who selected the same choice as indicated by the coin by turning their rings on or off got to remain in the game. The winner would go home with a $1,000 gift certificate from Burrowing Owl Estate Winery that is redeemable in its restaurant, for its guest house, or to purchase wine. As the only child present in the room, Carlee had bought a ring and excitedly played the game. When she and one other contestant were left to battle for the prize, there was a growing anticipation among the audience. Incredibly enough, and to everyone’s delight, Carlee did win the last round, and her grandmother accepted the gift card with her.

Finally, before some short thank you speeches, we enjoyed the raffle of the night. Anyone that had purchased numbered wine corks was entered in the draw for two tickets to anywhere Air Canada flies in North America, including Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. Captain Darren Nadeau was happy to present the tickets on Air Canada’s behalf.

After all expenses were paid, the total amount raised at the gala came to just over $98,000.

This amount will keep the Children’s Heart Network pumping for yet another year. CHN serves about 1,000 families in BC and will continue to do so to the best of its ability, thanks to all the wonderful prizes generously donated to the gala, and all the guests who came with their wallets open to enjoy this festive and fun evening. We are so grateful for the continuous support from many of our heart families every year.

A heartfelt thank you to all the volunteers that helped set up the venue during the day and those who helped with the many tasks on a busy evening. Thank you to Glen Spence who stepped in at the last minute to take photos, and to Carolyn Willson for helping with the staging of the auction tables. Thank you to Amy Willson for creating the beautiful catalogue cover. Thank you to Sophie’s Flower Pedals for creating and donating the beautiful centrepieces and to United Floral Inc. and Carly Crocker for donating the flowers. Also, thank you to Daniel Chocolates for the delicious chocolate hearts decorating every plate in the room. They truly made the tables look festive!

The silent auction tables, Kerry Harding, John Emmet Tracy with Charles and Carlee Vasquez, and Fred Lee with Hege Bolthof Hoegler

Thank you to our gold sponsors this year, AP Capital, Dr. Sinclair and Dr. Young from Victoria, Hayward Sheppard, Pediatric Cardiology Associates from BC Children’s Hospital, and Raven Excavation. Medtronic of Canada and TD Bank supported us with a bronze sponsorship, and the associate sponsors for 2022 were Canadian Forest Products, G&F Financial Group, the Rotary Club of Steveston, and Tim Wispinski/The Drinks List.

Hege Bolthof Hoegler has been the events coordinator for the last four years and was a gala volunteer before that. She is now stepping down and passing on the baton. She would like to thank CHN and the board for giving her this unique opportunity. It has been both a fun and stressful adventure to fundraise during a pandemic, and she now looks forward to participating as a guest next year and taking it all in from a new perspective. ♥

We would like to thank our sponsors:

Sponsor logosWine sponsors
Country Vines Winery
Dean Alexander
Jason Parkes Customs
The View Winery & Vineyard

Gold sponsors
AP Capital
Dr. Sinclair and Dr. Young
Hayward Sheppard
Pediatric Cardiology Associates
Raven Excavation

Bronze sponsors
Medtronic of Canada
TD Canada Trust

Associate sponsors
Canadian Forest Products Ltd.
G&F Financial Group
Rotary Club of Steveston
Sid Dickens
Tim Wispinski/The Drinks List

“Children’s Heart Network’s 18th Annual Wine Gala and Dinner” is from our summer 2022 newsletter, Heart Matters. See our Newsletters page for more stories and to subscribe.