Gala attendees

By Hege Bolthof Hoegler

Over two hundred guests, all dressed to the nines, were welcomed with bubbly and hors d’œuvres to the Villa Amato Ballroom on the evening of April 26 for the annual CHN wine gala.

The hall was beautifully decorated, with dim lighting and music playing in the background. The tables were adorned with crisp linen, silverware, orchids, and hearts made of red glass.

Around the room, there were 220 auction prizes and packages, including hotel stays, weekend getaways, spa and photo sessions, wine, wine tastings, and fridges. Professional art pieces and ones created by heart parents were also on full display, along with tickets for different sporting events, plays, and performances.

Guests mingled and bid on all these donated prizes. Many lingered over the unique Sid Dickens memory blocks hand-painted by CHN kids and teens.

To officially start the evening, emcee John Emmet Tracy welcomed everyone and introduced the first course: a wonderful frutti di mare salad paired with Sippin’ Pretty, a white wine from Country Vines Winery in Richmond.

This was followed by a West Coast surf and turf with delicious stuffed mushrooms, grilled peppers, and Orlando’s Catering’s signature puck potatoes.

In between courses, guests bid some more. Then, dinner ended with a strawberry gelato dessert from Mario’s Gelati in the shape of a heart that was paired with Sandeman vintage port.

At the end of bidding for the silent auction, a team of 14 volunteers collected the paperwork and another group wrote up invoices for the winning bidders.

One of the most moving parts of the evening came when Sabrina and Zachary Robertson spoke of their struggles as a heart family. With photos rolling in the background, Zach reminisced about his time at Zajac Ranch. He talked about what it has meant to him to attend the heart camps and to meet other peers. Guests had tears in their eyes and the entire room gave Zach a standing ovation.

Finally, it was time for Fred Lee of CBC and The Province, our spectacular auctioneer, to do his work. With enthusiasm, he rallied guests to donate a record amount of $32,000 toward our annual heart camps for children, teens, and families.

Other live auction items included a luxury champagne adventure in Whistler, an evening at home with dinner prepared by a chef and guests chauffeured via limo, and a Porsche ride to Squamish with breakfast and a picnic lunch. In all, the live auction raised over $11,000.

Everyone always loves playing the “glasses game” in what has become a beloved tradition at the wine gala. Participants buy sparkly, heart-shaped glasses and guess if the toss of a coin will deem it a round to keep them on or take them off. The lucky winner received a $1,000 gift card to Burrowing Owl Estate Winery.

There was also a draw of numbered wine corks for two Air Canada tickets to anywhere in North America, including Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. This year, karma came through when the winner also happened to be one of the most generous donors of the evening.

The total amount raised at the gala, minus all expenses, was an impressive $86,610.

This will keep CHN pumping yet another year. It enables us to fill the summer and family camps, and also to work on renewing our educational material.

We serve 800 families in BC and will keep doing so thanks to everyone who supports the wine gala. We hope to see you next year. Please pencil into your calendars the night of Friday, April 24, 2020. ♥

A heartfelt thank you to our major sponsors:
The View Winery & Vineyards, Country Vines Winery, Pediatric Cardiology Associates, Dr. Brian Sinclair, Customplan Financial Advisors Inc., Hayward Sheppard – Barristers & Solicitors, Dean Alexander, Don Price, The Drinks List, TD Bank, Tom Lee Music, Cindy Thaler, Medtronic Canada, Air Canada

Wine gala auctioneer and emcee; Sabrina and Zachary RobertsonTop left: auctioneer Fred Lee; top right: emcee John Emmet Tracy; bottom: Sabrina and Zachary Robertson

“The 17th Annual Children’s Heart Network Wine Gala” is from our summer 2019 newsletter, Heart Matters. See our Newsletters page for more stories and to subscribe.