David Foster Foundation Miracle Gala & Concert In Calgary Raised $8.2M
(Video: press; Photos: Binzento)
Before the 800 gala guests attending the 2014 David Foster Foundation Miracle Gala & Concert departed – presented by TELUS and held at the WestJet campus – David Foster thanked them for helping raise a record $8.2 M to help Canadian families with children undergoing pediatric organ transplants.
The funds raised will help families that receive assistance from the Foundation each year, and will help the Foundation work toward its goal of raising $30 M by their 30th anniversary in 2017. The David Foster Foundation works with families during this difficult time to assist with their non-medical expenses while they wait – often far from home – for their child to receive a viable organ for transplant. The average cost for a family is $10,000 per year, but can reach up to $100,000.
Since 1986, the David Foster Foundation has assisted more than 1,000 families, often for multiple years and, in some cases, for multiple children within the same family. For example, in late August Foster arrived in Calgary to meet with Curtis Keller, who at age five had been waiting for a heart transplant for more than two years. Curtis and his family were able to travel to Edmonton so he could receive a new heart shortly after Foster’s visit. The surgery was successful and Curtis and his family are doing well, attending the evening just two weeks after his surgery.
This year’s event coincided with the announcement by Foster of his support the Because I Can Project (www.becauseIcanproject.com), an initiative started by David Foster Foundation Board Member Levi Sampson. The Because I Can Project is an online petition and awareness program that asks Canadians to help lobby for a change from an opt-in, to a presumed consent organ donor registry across the country.
The evening began with the star-studded arrival of guests, VIPs and celebrities along the purple carpet (the Foundation’s preferred color) before entering the completely transformed WestJet hangar. Guests were treated to performances by Foster, Jennifer Hudson, Jackie Evancho, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Brett Kissel, Brett Wilson, and comedian Sinbad. And, legendary rock superstar Steven Tyler brought down the house as he performed a medley of hits during a surprise appearance that helped close the show.
The evening was emceed by CNN’s Michaela Pereira, who was joined by other notable guests including hockey commentator and former NHL goalie Kelly Hrudey, Mrs. Laureen Harper, cast members of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, former wrestler Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and Dragon Jim Treliving. Simon Keith, former professional soccer player, motivational speaker and author, and one of the oldest living heart transplant recipients, attended the gala for the third consecutive year.
The concert portion of the evening was kicked off by Foster playing the theme song from the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games, which he described as, “the best song he has ever written,” and ended with a spectacular performance by Steven Tyler, before Foster took to the microphone to confirm that the evening had raised $8.2 M.
During the evening, the Foundation presented its National Business Leader of the Year award to Treliving, whose Boston Pizza is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 and when accepting his honour pledged $1M to the Foundation on behalf of he and his wife Sandy. The National Humanitarian Leader of the Year award was presented to child advocate and former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy. Both recipients were chosen for their long-term commitment to philanthropic efforts across Canada.