HEART OF GOLD GALA
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to say tonight because I have fear, I have uncertainty, I have less hope – but I still have faith.”
After being postponed for two years, the KGH Foundation’s iconic Heart of Gold gala returned this past September, pushing boundaries and exceeding all expectations thanks to the enduring faith and support of our generous community. At the end of the evening, a record-breaking $1.6 million had been raised to help establish a centre of excellence in brain health at Kelowna General Hospital.
“It was perfect,” says Lynn Archibald, the Creative Director for the Heart of Gold event for the past 14 years. “The theme this year was ‘Pushing Boundaries’, and that is exactly what we are doing.”
It has been four years since the last Heart of Gold gala in 2018, which took place in a parking lot that would eventually become the location of JoeAnna’s House. Over $1.2 million was raised that evening. JoeAnna’s House has now been built, and celebrated its three-year anniversary in November 2022. Hundreds of families every year are now able to stay close to their loved ones receiving advanced care at KGH, thanks to the generosity of donors and in no small measure, the success of the Heart of Gold gala.
Since 2016, the Heart of Gold gala has benefited greatly from title sponsorship of the Thomas Alan Budd Foundation and its namesake, Tom Budd. A retired Investment Banker, Tom lost both his sons when they were young adults, and now devotes much of his time and energy to philanthropy as a way to keep their legacies alive. In addition to the title sponsorship, Tom Budd gives generously in support of Heart of Gold causes, including over $300,000 at this year’s event in support of brain health.
It is an area of health care that is vitally important. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, ALS, Alzheimer’s and dementia are devastating to those who are suffering, and their families. KGH is now home to some very bright and ambitious neurologists. The goal is to establish KGH as a hub for world-class research, innovation and most critically, delivery of care close to home for those in our region who are living with, or will develop, these diseases.
Speaking at the gala, Dr. Devin Harris, Executive Medical Director, Quality, Patient Safety and Research for Interior Health and also an Emergency Physician at KGH reflected, “We have learned many things over the past two years. It’s time to support the overall sustainability of our health system, including the extraordinary people working in it, if we hope to move past the challenges we are facing.”
In his raw, unscripted, heartfelt and inspiring speech, Tom chose to draw from his own personal story, sharing his thoughts on giving in the face of uncertainty.
“In the past, giving has been my lifeline. Even as I face so much uncertainty in my own life, I hold on to faith that if we just give more than we take, we have a life worth living.”
It was a timely reminder to all that despite the uncertainty we face in health care today, we must believe that change is possible. And that giving changes everything.
A Stunning Return
The anticipation for the return of Heart of Gold was palpable. After years of planning and preparation, on a gorgeous September evening O’Rourke’s Family Estate Winery, Heart of Gold returned, and by all accounts, it was a stunner.
At a venue that could easily rival some of the best in the world, dozens of volunteers gathered, generously donating their time to ensure the evening was seamless from start to finish. Much of the credit for the evening’s wow factor can be attributed to the Heart of Gold Committee, a group of twelve volunteers who devote countless hours to planning, coordinating logistics, setting up, and executing the event. Amid much uncertainty, their commitment, passion, creativity, expertise and professionalism shone through, culminating in an unforgettable evening.
Another group that brought some sparkle to the gala – literally – were the dedicated volunteers from RBC Royal Bank, who donned pink safety vests and hard hats, and hustled hard to sell over $7,500 in light-up rings to guests. For years now, the incredible team from RBC has also helped at Heart of Gold with registration, coat check, valet, and management of hospitality rooms.
The stunning return and unprecedented success of Heart of Gold 2022 wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication of these volunteers.