Light up the Night benefit shines spotlight on Ottawa's Bruyère

Outdoor party brings business, community leaders together to raise charitable funds for complex continuing care

Some 120 partygoers celebrated the last few days of summer by escaping into the private backyard oasis belonging to Ottawa businessman Aik Aliferis for Tuesday's inaugural Light Up The Night for Bruyère.

It was a beautiful gathering, with guests mingling by the swimming pool, helping themselves to a generous spread of food, sipping on fancy cocktails, and indulging in some scotch and cigars. Giant inflatable swans could be seen floating around in the fountained swimming pool. Over by the party tent was an outdoor lounge area with a tabletop fire pit. Adding to the relaxing ambiance was live music played by bouzouki player Tony Pantieras

Perhaps it was oyster shucker Jesse Papastavros from The Whalesbone who summed it up best when he said, in passing: “It’s the right party to be at."

The smooth and seamless evening was organized in only seven weeks by a volunteer committee consisting of Aliferis, his business partner Nick Pantieras, his long-time friend Arlie Koyman, his girlfriend Samar Saab, Hellenic Community of Ottawa president Tony Georgiou and board members Bill Kontogiannis and Tom Varvaresos, and Jasmin Rose Ibrahim. Last but certainly not least on the committee was Ottawa lawyer Daniel “Danny” Fernandes

Organizers were hoping the event, which was sponsored by local businesses, would net about $45,000 for Bruyère.

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From left, Danny Fernandes, Arlie Koyman, Aik Aliferis, Jasmin Rose Ibrahim and Samar Saab helped to organize the inaugural Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit, held at Aliferis's Ottawa home on Tuesday, September 18, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Bill Kontogiannis and Tom Varvaresos from the board of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa helped to organize Light Up The Night for Bruyère. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Nick Pantieras with Charles "Charlie" Saikaley, a real estate and business lawyer at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Fernandes is the board chair of the Bruyère Foundation. He’s also a long-time sponsor of the annual Gold Plate Dinner organized by and held in support of the Greek community. 

For the last couple of years, Gold Plate has been co-chaired by Aliferis, CEO and founding partner of Ottawa-based Primecorp Commercial Realty, and by Pantieras, who’s the president and founding partner of the commercial real estate brokerage and property management firm.

While the popular dinner has a tight relationship with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (it's a frequent beneficiary), Aliferis also wanted to help Fernandes’s charitable cause. He consulted with the Hellenic Community of Ottawa and they came up with the idea of hosting a separate fundraiser, Light Up The Night for Bruyère, while attracting some of the same supporters from the Gold Plate Dinner.

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Tony Pantieras – who's the brother of Nick Pantieras – on the bouzouki at the Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit, held Tuesday, September 18, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Dr. George Tawagi and his wife, Francine Belleau, with Andrea Laurin and Dennis Laurin, owner of the Laurin Group, at the Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit, held Tuesday, September 18, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Hellenic Community of Ottawa president Tony Georgiou lights up at the Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit, held Tuesday, September 18, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips

It was decided the $500-a-ticket benefit would be held at Aliferis’s home, located in the exclusive and upscale Winding Way enclave in Barrhaven. The backyard has a pool house that comes with a bathroom and an outdoor bar. Having it outside at a private venue also made it easier for the cigar-smoking set.

The evening brought out the top leadership from Bruyère, from its president and CEO, Guy Chartrand, to Heidi Sveistrup, CEO and chief scientific officer of the Bruyère Research Institute, to Peggy Taillon, president of the Bruyère Foundation.

Bruyère – one of the largest health-care centres of its kind in Canada – addresses the needs of the aging population in the region. It offers complex continuing care, geriatric rehabilitation, stroke rehabilitation, palliative care, long-term care and affordable housing for seniors.

"Bruyère is actually so much more than that," said Taillon. "We serve people from 18 to 98."

Organizers were already looking for volunteers to step up and host the benefit next year.

"All we need is a show of hands," Fernandes told the crowd. "We will create the bar, we will create the food and we will bring everyone who needs to come out."

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From left, Peggy Taillon, Guy Chartrand and Heidi Sveistrup at the Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit, held Tuesday, September 18, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Sean Murray, president and CEO of Sakto Corporation, and his wife, Jamilah Taib Murray, chair of Sakto Corporation, at the Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit, held Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at the private home of Ottawa businessman Aik Aliferis. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Michelle Begin with organizing committee member Arlie Koyman and Claire Greenberg at the Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit, held Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at the private home of Ottawa businessman Aik Aliferis. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Pawan Dilawri with former NHL player Shawn Rivers, president of GunnMedia Group, and Peggy Taillon at the Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit, held Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at the private home of Ottawa businessman Aik Aliferis. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Domenic Santaguida, president of Vittoria Trattoria, Luigi Corio, Pat Nicastro from sponsor La Bottega Nicastro Fine Food Shop, Rocco Crea from sponsor LDC Precision Concrete and lawyer Daniel "Danny" Fernandes, who helped sponsor and organize the Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit, held Tuesday, September 18, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Lou Malouf with Eli and Laila Saikaley from Silver Scissors hair salon in the Glebe, at the Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit, held Tuesday, September 18, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Shrimp display from The Whalesbone at the Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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The fabulous desserts station, donated by Belle Events Co., at the Light Up The Night for Bruyère benefit, held Tuesday, September 18, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca