With more than a foot of fresh snow and mild temperatures awaiting, some 250 members of Ottawa’s business community got to be ski bums for a day at Mont Ste. Marie ski resort while raising money for children who are ill and in need within our community.
The 29th annual fundraiser, held Friday about an hour's drive north of Ottawa, is the largest single-day charity event for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa, a fundraising arm of the Children's Aid Society. The event raised $343, 265.
Participants got a head start on the après-ski scene, to put it mildly. They gathered Thursday night for a big dinner with sponsors, held in the main lodge. It was followed by late-night socializing inside a heated and festive party tent, with beer from Tooth and Nail Brewing Company.
Returning for the third year as title sponsor was Sporting Life, represented by Hank Shannon, manager of its Ottawa store at Lansdowne. He had the dinner crowd on its feet, applauding, when he announced that Sporting Life was signing on for another three years.
The brief dinner speeches were focused on thanking the significant number of sponsors who support Ski for Kids (the exact number rounds off to about 90). Shannon went off script for a minute to talk about children — particularly his own two teenagers, and the precious time he was able to spend with them during this week’s school-closure Snow Day. They headed to Camp Fortune ski resort in Gatineau Park for a few runs together. “That was the best day of my entire season,” said Shannon, whose presence filled the room with good vibes all around.
Returning to co-chair the organizing committee were Tom McKenna and Derek Noble, the latter of whom also hosted some of the top sponsors for an earlier cocktail reception at his ski-in chalet.
Noble is a partner with Huntington Properties. It owns and manages more than 47 properties in Ottawa, and will be landlord to Ottawa’s first cannabis store when it opens this spring on Wellington Street West.
Huntington Properties was a double black diamond sponsor, along with the non-profit, family-run Taggart Parkes Foundation. Moreover, Jeff Parkes, a vice president with Taggart Realty Management, is part of the Ski for Kids organizing committee and a member of the prominent Taggart and Parkes clan. “This community benefits immensely from the generosity of this family,” said Noble at the dinner. “We could not pull off Ski for Kids without the Taggart Parkes Foundation and its incredible contributions, both in money and time.”
Loyal sponsors also included Jeff Clarke, CEO of black diamond sponsor Inflector Environmental Services. He took over the company after his father, Jeff Clarke Sr., passed away five years ago. His father was instrumental in helping to grow Ski for Kids into such a successful charity event.
Best attire of the night went to Paul Cook, vice president of sponsor CBRE, for his ski motif buttoned-down shirt. In the ski world, he's better known as the father of local alpine ski hero Dustin Cook, after whom Mont Ste. Marie’s signature run is named.
A gorgeous new start lodge opened this season on Dustin Cook Run, as the result of fundraising efforts, and will serve as the venue for a private dinner for eight people, courtesy of restaurateur Stephen Beckta and Huntington Properties. The auction item was sold before it was even open to bidding. Well-known entrepreneur Harley Finkelstein — who's building a recreational property at Mont Ste. Marie — bought it for $5,000 and then generously donated it back. Guests won't have to trudge up the hill to the lodge, by the way. They'll either be transported either by snowmobile or snow groomer.
Skiers could also bid on a night out to see the Ottawa Senators in a 200-level suite, along with a catered dinner by Shinka Sushi Bar to be held in the off-season and hosted by Ottawa Senators player Cody Ceci and one of his teammates.
As well, the auction list included: a Caribbean dream vacation for eight; a Kicking Horse ski vacation for two, with flights from WestJet; an ultimate BBQ summer party package with the Grateful Griller (a.k.a. Michael Shannon of Wakefield); a fly-fishing adventure; a private dinner for 10 prepared by award-winning chef Michael Moffatt of Thyme & Again; and a 200-level suite for the Corey Hart concert, courtesy of the Ottawa Senators Foundation.
Additionally, there was an opportunity for a group of 10 to help design, name and brew 1,500 litres of craft beer with Dustin Cook under the guidance of Matt Tweedy from Tooth and Nail. Tweedy’s brother, Rob Tweedy, an IT professional with sponsor Modern Niagara, is a long-time member of the organizing committee and told OBJ.social how proud he is to be part of a fundraiser that has successfully grown, both in terms of how much money it raises and the sponsorship it attracts.
“It keeps getting better and better,” Tweedy told OBJ.social. “I’m excited to be involved with this event every year. I love it; it’s just so rewarding.”
At the dinner, guests were entertained by a live performance from singer/songwriter Alanna Sterling, who was a Children's Aid Foundation bursary recipient and is now making a career for herself in the music world.