German ambassador taps keg at Oktoberfest benefit for University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Annual fundraiser at Bier Markt on Sparks Street nets $100,000 for charity

She’s only just arrived in town and already new German Ambassador Sabine Sparwasser was involved Wednesday night with a very important diplomatic matter: tapping a barrel of beer for Capital Oktoberfest 2017 at the Bier Markt on Sparks Street.

With a few careful swings of the hammer, both by Sparwasser and by Bier Markt general manager Peter Chase, they got the beer flowing, and officially launched the fundraiser. It netted $103,825 for the world-class University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

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The evening featured live music and prizes, a sumptuous spread of German-inspired food, and beer glasses big enough to bathe a baby. Tickets were $250 but came with a $125 tax receipt.

Returning to co-chair Oktoberfest were Steve Gallant, first vice-president, branch manager and investment advisor at CIBC Wood Gundy, and Tony Rhodes, award-winning sales representative with Coldwell Banker Rhodes & Company.

Capital Oktoberfest 2017

This year’s presenting sponsor was Mackenzie Investments, represented by district vice president of retail sales, Patrick O’Connell.

You’d never know it by looking at him but O’Connell is a heart attack survivor. In 2015, he was a fit and healthy 39 year old when he started feeling inexplicably and consistently crummy. His symptoms included shortness of breath, achiness and fatigue. He soldiered on for a couple of months, parenting five boys, all under the age of 11.

It was O’Connell’s father who ended up driving him to Queensway Carleton Hospital after he suffered a heart attack late one night.

O’Connell was next sent to the Heart Institute for further testing. He was diagnosed with a viral heart disease, known as myocarditis. It attacks the heart muscle, causes inflammation and is potentially fatal. Luckily, his case was caught in time and he was successfully treated.

“I have the fortunate and unfortunate experience of having actually been a patient of the Heart Institute,” O’Connell told “I was terrified when I was there, not because I thought I was going to die, but because I had these five young boys who needed their dad.”

The Heart Institute plays a life-saving role in the lives of so many, added O’Connell, recalling a day in November 1982 when Dr. Wilbert Keon performed a quadruple bypass on his 70-year-old grandfather, extending his life another 15 years. The reason O’Connell remembers the date so clearly is because all his relatives came to town, just in case his grandfather didn’t make it.

Capital Oktoberfest 2017

Spotted in the crowd of about 200 was Jim Orban, president of the Heart Institute Foundation, along with such supporters as Shannon Gorman from Telus; Cindy Tomlinson Keon, executive vice-president at the Tomlinson Group of Companies; Chris Vivone, senior vice-president of Edelman; and Greg Roscoe, a financial advisor with Contego Wealth Management of Raymond James.

Capital Oktoberfest 2017


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Particularly popular during the live auction this year was a dinner for 16 hosted by the German ambassador and her Canadian husband at her official residence in Rockcliffe. Sparwasser was consul general in Toronto from 2009 to 2013 and was posted in Ottawa from 2003 to 2006 as deputy head of mission. She’s also held the positions of assistant deputy minister in Germany and special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her embassy dinner sparked a bidding war that was won by Meredithe Rechan. She paid $5,000, beating out BMO Nesbitt Burns investment advisor Andrew Beamish and Sheldon Rice, a financial advisor with Raymond James.

Rechan was one of several volunteer board members there from the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club. It’s the beneficiary charity for the popular Ringside for Youth dinner and amateur boxing night that Gallant founded. He, along with Rhodes, are on the organizing committee for that event, too. Coincidentally, it was at Ringside that last spotted Paul Hindo, who unbeknownst to anyone at the time, was secretly guarding a $22 million-winning lottery ticket in his breast pocket, having only just found out that he’d won. Hindo was at Oktoberfest.

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Capital Oktoberfest 2017


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