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.
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.
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."