What started as a fun idea with friends to host a Stay at Home Gala has now raised $197,621 in six days and is launching as an international event.
More than 20 Canadian cities, including Kelowna, will take part in the nationwide initiative on Saturday, May 2, in light of COVID-19 social distancing and event cancellations.
In partnership with the Community Foundation of Canada, all funds raised will be directed back into local communities.
Funds raised from the Kelowna event will benefit the Central Okanagan Foundation and Community Foundations of the North and South Okanagan who will direct the funds towards the most in-need charities within the Okanagan.
Founder and lead volunteer Drew Vincent says the group of five friends who came up with the original idea never expected it to reach so far it would create international events like the one in Houston.
“We knew charities across Canada are experiencing the financial burden of COVID-19, and so we created the Stay at Home Gala event model to help others raise and direct funds to the charities most in need in one’s own community.
“The response has been unbelievable with new cities signing up to be hosts each day.”
The national and regional event will feature all the familiar elements of a gala, including keynote speaker and six-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser, music from rising country stars Hunter Brothers and entertainment.
Beth Goodhew, organizer of the Stay at Home Gala in Muskoka, Ont., says taking part in the event just “felt like the right way” to engage with her community and give some much-needed hope during this time.
“Once I put my hand up to be a local champion it has been amazing. The train was leaving the station and I needed to get on! The energy and excitement that I get from local performers, volunteers, sponsors, other local champions and the national Stay at Home Gala team are infectious!”
To register or take part in a Stay at Home gala, visit the website.
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