The night had hardly begun when party-goers took it to the dance floor to whoop it up during the 8th Annual Proud To Be Bullyfree Gala held Friday night at Brookstreet Hotel.
Nearly 400 guests came together for this year’s A Night Under the Stars theme to raise funds for the Proud To Be Me (PTBM) organization and its efforts to empower and educate youth in its mission toward inclusion and anti-bullying.
Montreal-based entertainer George Thomas couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. He got guests belting out Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and dancing like a Rockette to Sinatra’s New York, New York. Guests boogied to classic female empowerment song Respect. They also happily stomp-stomp-clapped in unison to the thunderous beat of Queen’s We Will Rock You. It was like a really fun wedding, minus the lovebirds.
The team at PTBM consists of executive director and CEO Cindy Cutts, chief operating officer Jody McCombe, director of finance Marco Campagna and director of events Shari Lynn-Lawson, who’s also head of conference services and events at Brookstreet.
The evening also featured GleeCeptional singers, Ottawa-based pop sensation Michelle Treacy and a live auction led by sponsor Kent Browne from Royal LePage Team Realty.
The gala was presented by BMO Financial Group, represented that night by Victor (Vittorio) Pellegrino, who was recently promoted to the bank's regional president.
The evening raised funds for Proud to be Me, a grassroots organization that funds youth programs, workshops and services in the community through its grants. Its initiatives have also included the PTBM friendship buddy bench program, its PTBM Youth Day, and the anti-bullying awareness walk it organized last year in partnership with the Can’t Dim My Light organization launched by former Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson and his wife Melinda.
Spotted in the crowd were Kanata-Carleton Liberal MP Karen McCrimmon, Mayor Jim Watson and Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley. He's a long-time supporter of the cause. So is real estate agent Kristine Johnson from Kristine in the City.
The Ottawa Senators' chief financial officer, Brian Crombie, attended with former dress designer Justina McCaffrey, who's running as a Conservative candidate in the Kanata-Carleton riding. Also from the hockey team were player development coach Shean Donovan and Danielle Robinson, president of the Ottawa Senators Foundation. Avant-Garde Designs owner Sharon Bosley House was out supporting the cause, as was Mark Saunders of Saunders Farm, which is again hosting the PTBM Youth Day on Wednesday, June 5th.