Château Laurier adds holiday magic with Trees of Hope benefit for CHEO

Hotel's annual lighting ceremony and silent auction helps to kick off Christmas season

It was an evening full of elegance, grace and timeless style as the Fairmont Château Laurier brought together all the very best parts of Christmas and presented them Monday night in one beautiful ballroom, while also raising more than $100,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).

And they made it all look so easy.

Organizers welcomed up to 500 guests to their 21st annual Trees of Hope, a popular lighting ceremony that has cumulatively raised more than $885,000 for our beloved pediatric health and research centre. The holiday-themed evening featured live music, drinks and delicious desserts, prizes and donated silent auction items, and themed Christmas trees surrounded by festive decor and lights.

The evening was organized by an all-female team of volunteers, led by Deneen Perrin, the hotel’s director of public relations. She also had the behind-the-scenes support of her boss, hotel general manager Claude Sauvé.

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Deborah Sauvé and Claude Sauvé, general manager of the Fairmont Château Laurier, at the 21st annual Trees of Hope lighting ceremony and silent auction, held Monday, November 26, 2018 at the downtown hotel. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Carolyn Carson (EDC and KRX Fitness), Sheefra Brisbin (Greenbridge Group), communications and event management specialist Gail Carroll, Chantal Charbonneau (CHEO Foundation), Anna Hadden, Deneen Perrin (Fairmont Château Laurier) and Stephanie Egan (CHEO Foundation) at the Trees of Hope lighting ceremony and silent auction for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, held at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Monday, November 26, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Peggy DuCharme, executive director of the Downtown Rideau BIA, at the Trees of Hope lighting ceremony and silent auction for CHEO, held at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Monday, November 26, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips

“This event has become such a great tradition in this city,” said CHEO Foundation president and CEO Kevin Keohane. “I know that when we send out invitations to people, we actually have a greater response than we hope will show up because we wouldn’t be able to fit everyone into the room.”

Catching everyone’s attention were the 31 trees donated by Canadian Tire and subsequently decorated by local companies and organizations. The whimsical works of art will continue to spruce up the hotel’s main floor throughout the holidays. The public is invited to come and check out the trees, vote on their favourite, and make a donation to CHEO.

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From left, CHEO Foundation president and CEO Kevin Keohane with Kaylah Carruthers, 14, and Charlotte McLaughlin, 14, and her father, Terry McLaughlin, owner of Terlin Construction, at the Trees of Hope lighting ceremony and silent auction for CHEO, held at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Monday, November 26, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Chris Vivone, senior vice president of Edelman Ottawa, with senior vice president and general manger Darcy Walsh, and, Aniela Cockburn (front left), Matt Salvatore and Brooke Anderson, shortly after decorating their company-sponsored tree at the Fairmont Château Laurier for the Trees of Hope benefit for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From the Ottawa Senators Foundation were such Sens wives and girlfriends as, from left: Tara Borowiecki, Jamie Thompson, Jessica DeMelo, Olivia Donnelly, Hayley Thompson and Mathilde Caroline Meulengracht at the Trees of Hope lighting ceremony and silent auction for CHEO, held at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Monday, November 26, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Tasked with the difficult job of judging the trees were: Ottawa At Homes Magazine editor in chief Mary Taggart, who was representing sponsor Tamarack Homes; Katherine Cooligan, regional managing partner of sponsor BLG (Borden Ladner Gervais) and a member of the CHEO Foundation board; Mr. Sauvé's wife, Deborah Sauvé; Majic 100 radio personalities Stu Schwartz and Angie Poirier; and Catherine McLaughlin, whose husband, Terry McLaughlin, is the owner of sponsor Terlin Construction.

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From left, Mary Taggart, Catherine McLaughlin and Katherine Cooligan helped select the winning Christmas trees at this year's Trees of Hope event for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, held at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Monday, November 26, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Stu Schwartz and Angie Poirier, morning show hosts on Majic 100, were part of the panel of judges at this year's Trees of Hope benefit for CHEO. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Terlin, an Ottawa-based construction company founded nearly 30 years ago, believes in supporting local charities like CHEO, said Teresa Stirling, its director of marketing and communications. “CHEO is just such a huge part of Ottawa,” she told OBJ.social. “It’s something that touches everyone.”

Helping to decorate the Terlin tree was a team-building experience for Stirling, who just joined the company in October. “As a new member of the team, I got to spend time with some of my colleagues. I’m just getting to know them, so this has already brought us closer to together.”

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Deneen Perrin with her children, Sophia Michel, 18, a first-year student at the University of Ottawa, and Alexander Michel, 14, a former patient at CHEO, at this year's Trees of Hope event for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, held at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Monday, November 26, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Out supporting the event were Karlis Bouse and his wife, Giselle Incze, along with their two children, Jakob, 15, and Callia, 12, who are long-time patients of CHEO. Bouse spoke very highly about the excellent level of care that the hospital has provided for his children over the years.

"They're angels on earth."

"They're angels on earth," said Bouse. "I count myself incredibly fortunate to be able to give my kids a hug and ask them how their day was. That's because of places like CHEO. To have the people there, who give so selflessly and so genuinely to our two children; it's made an unbelievable world of difference for us."

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CHEO family Callia Bouse, Giselle Incze, Jakob Bouse and Karlis Bouse at the Trees of Hope lighting ceremony and silent auction for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, held at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Monday, November 26, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Ottawa law firm Sicotte Guilbault continued its winning streak. It took first place again this year, in the Enchanted Forest category, with KPMG as the runner up. Richcraft Homes was top pick in the Twelve Days of Christmas category, followed by BDO.

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Monica Singhal, executive vice president at Richcraft Homes, with her three kids, Maya, 11, Dhara, 10, and Chet, 13, at the Trees of Hope lighting ceremony and silent auction for CHEO, held at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Monday, November 26, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
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The team from Sicotte Guilbault consisted of Chanelle Dutrisac, left, Christian Marc, Marie-Hélène Godbout, Emilie Leblanc Lacasse, Jessica Houle and Karen Pelletier at the Trees of Hope benefit for CHEO. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Ottawa firefighters were back to help sell raffle tickets. Seen picking up the prize for a one-night stay at the Fairmont Le Château Montebello was Cooligan’s husband, Jim Houswerth. The two plane tickets to anywhere Air Canada flies in North America were won by Julie Beun, content strategist for HEXO.

“Winning the big travel prize is such a thrill,” she later told OBJ.social. “I was trying to work out how to take my kids on a holiday and the CHEO Foundation figured it out for me.”

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From left, volunteers Sara Elmestekawy and Callia Bouse with grand prize winner Julie Beun and Ottawa fire prevention officer Ellen Pazdzior at the Trees of Hope lighting ceremony and silent auction for CHEO, held at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Monday, November 26, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
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Ottawa firefighter Tony Shaw with regular attendees Jim Reklitis and his wife, Penny Reklitis, at the Trees of Hope lighting ceremony and silent auction for CHEO, held at the Fairmont Château Laurier on Monday, November 26, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips 

The massive silent auction of more than 250 items featured donated gift baskets, restaurant gift certificates, seats for concerts and sporting events, artwork, and numerous two-nights stays in Fairmont and Sofitel hotels located in such dreamy destinations as Switzerland, Whistler, Quebec City, and California.

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2018 Trees of Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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2018 Trees of Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca