The Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital Foundation’s 19th Annual Gala may have gone virtual, but the dollars raised will make a real impact on patient care at Soldiers’. The proceeds will help the Hospital purchase life-saving ventilators, other breathing apparatus and medical equipment to support critical and emergency care.
The gala took place online Friday, October 16th, 2020 and consisted of an hour-long show with live elements, patient stories and testimonials from staff. Viewers had the option to purchase additional add-ons to enhance the experience by participating in costume and pumpkin carving contests, VIP packages and dinner parties. A city-wide silent auction and 50/50 raffle helped bolster the evening’s totals.
For the event organizer, Kaitlyn St. Pierre, the gala exceeded all expectations. “When we first decided to proceed with a virtual event, we couldn’t have imagined the support we received,” she said. “This community is so generous, so supportive that despite the different format, they were along for the ride with us, excited to purchase 50/50 tickets, carve pumpkins and make donations to their Hospital. We are so grateful and completely blown away by the participation.”
More than 630 people registered to take part in Soldiers’ Spooktacular Soirée, helping this to be the most successful gala to date. Over 1,300 bids were made in the online silent auction, generating $33,000 and during the show’s live fund-a-cause segment, hosted by Layne, the Auctionista, more than $50,000 in donations came in online and over the phone. The evening’s $21,253 50/50 raffle prize was won by Dorothy Torella of Severn.
“It was a night of mutual celebration for the community and the Hospital,” said Mark Riczu, Executive Director, OSMH Foundation. “While on the surface, the theme was about celebrating Halloween and having fun in our small bubbles, the underlying message that came across throughout the evening was one of supporting each other in a time of need. I think that as we continue to navigate a pandemic, that message resonated with the community and they really came through for us.”
In the past, the OSMH Foundation’s galas have been held at Casino Rama Resort with approximately 325 attendees. To date, the event has raised $1.13 million in support of the Hospital’s greatest needs. In previous years, the gala has supported automated dispensing units, seniors care, Paediatric/NICU renovations, the Electronic Medical Record system, cancer care and vital equipment purchases at Soldiers’.