This article is sponsored by the CHEO Foundation.
In the era of virtual events, CHEO’s 2021 For the Kids Gala, presented by Feely Group, is dialing up the creativity, inviting online attendees to join CHEO families and employees for an evening filled with art, talent and inspiration.
The annual fundraiser is taking place on Thursday, April 8 and directly supports development and rehabilitation at CHEO, while also sharing stories of the amazing kids that pass through its doors. With the gala now in its second year as a virtual event, the CHEO Foundation team has honed in on new ways to engage an online audience.
“We’ve introduced as many interactive elements as possible to get the community excited about this year’s virtual event,” says Lydia Blanchard, director of community engagement at the CHEO Foundation. “We want to bring the gala to our guests and ensure the community knows about the great work happening at the hospital in a fun and informative way.”
This year, all ticket holders will receive a “gala-in-a-box” package filled with snacks, drinks and goodies from local restaurants and shops. There is also a VIP package option that includes a special networking event before the gala, a “mix your own cocktail kit” and tutorial by Bar From Afar, as well as other specialty treats.
“We really wanted to have a hyper-local approach with the prizes and gifts this year to help out Ottawa retailers,” says Blanchard. “We love to promote shopping in our city.”
The funds raised through ticket sales and prize draws at the For the Kids Gala supports the programming and services offered by the development and rehabilitation teams at CHEO.
Children and youth with injuries, physical or mental disabilities, degenerative conditions, developmental delays or complex care needs have access to classes, group activities, life-changing support and equipment through the department.
To highlight the hard work and dedication of both the unit’s employees and patients, the gala theme is “CHEO’s Got Talent” featuring a variety of traditional talents and special milestone moments, sponsored by Qlik, to celebrate newly developed skills and abilities of the kids in the programs. Attendees can tour a virtual gallery presented by Point 3D Commercial Imaging and the Ottawa Art Gallery, filled with artwork created by CHEO kids, as well as watch a talent show featuring the department’s patients.
The goal is to prevent a child's illness or disability from defining their identity. The gala allows these inspiring individuals to explore and share their talents with the wider community, says Susan Mendelsohn, director of development and rehabilitation at CHEO.
“In these situations, there’s always a lot of focus on what a child can’t do,” says Mendelsohn. “It’s really exciting for them to flip that narrative and not be presented as a sad story, but instead as a kid with an amazing singing voice or cool wheelchair dance moves.”
Without the support of the local community through events like the gala, Mendelsohn says the development and rehabilitation department would be unable to provide some of the classes and equipment needed to fully support its patients. Power wheelchairs and specialty computers can cost thousands of dollars, an expense typically not covered by government funding that’s out of the reach for many families.
“The gala helps a wider audience understand who these children and families are and what kinds of challenges they face,” she adds.
For Kevin Feely, that resilience and inspirational spirit was the driving force behind his company’s sponsorship of the 2021 For The Kids Gala. Following a previous tour of CHEO and visiting the development and rehabilitation department, he says it hit home how much community support means to those families and children.
As a property developer and manager, the Feely Group often meets local families in search of the perfect home, so being able to support them when times are tough “just made sense.”
“Our business prides itself on giving back to the community, because we believe that you receive from what you give,” he adds. “Our employees love being involved and our customers also take pride in working with a company that really cares about its community.”
Register for the gala today
Don’t miss your chance to celebrate all of the local talent in Ottawa’s CHEO family. Get your ticket to the gala today!
Can’t make it to the event on April 8, 2021? Be sure to still check out the online auction, presented by Inflector Environmental Group featuring over 250 prizes including house cleaning services, gourmet gift baskets and gift cards from local businesses, a weekend RV rental and other unique getaways, and a variety of exciting local experiences.