The Ottawa Fury soccer club set its game face aside to embrace a unique new fundraiser, Fury for the Heart, held Sunday afternoon in support of the Montfort Hospital Foundation.
More than 200 attendees got to leave their neck ties and cocktail dresses at home for a fun afternoon of mingling, in shorts, sneakers and soccer jerseys that came personalized with their corporate name on the back, while at Stonefields Event Destination, a beautiful 120-acre heritage farm located near Carleton Place.
Each dinner table was paired up with an Ottawa Fury member to compete against the other teams in a soccer skills competition. The Need for Speed Test, for example, clocked the speed of a kicked soccer ball with a police radar gun (just one of the advantages of having Ottawa’s police chief, Charles Bordeleau there; he's on the Montfort Hospital Foundation board).
“It was a really good time,” Fury team captain Lance Rozeboom told OBJ.social afterward. “It was relaxing and enjoyable. It’s good to hang out and meet new people.”
The athletes managed to resist keeping their eyes only on the prize, which, in this case, was a soccer ball trophy later handed out by Ottawa Fury president John Pugh, who's also a partner at OSEG.
“I put my competitive juices aside,” said player Eddie Edward, who was just happy to be giving back to the community, particularly since Ottawa is his hometown. He went to St. Joseph High School in Barrhaven.
What’s a soccer event without some traditional English weather, as emcee Mike Pearson, the PA announcer for the Ottawa Fury, pointed out. A rain shower interrupted the soccer contest about mid-way through. No disappointment was expressed by the folks who'd yet to compete in The Gauntlet obstacle course, with its 10 daunting burpees.
Scottish-born head coach Paul Dalglish had this tongue-in-cheek comment to say about his experience out on the field: “It’s only cheating if you get caught.”
Special guests included Dalglish’s father, Liverpool and Scotland soccer hero Kenny Dalglish.
Guests kept dry in the elegant event barn. There was a live music from a bunch of Canterbury High School students. What really got the crowd cheering like a lifelong soccer fan whose team had just won was the impromptu rap performance by Fury goalkeeper Callum Irving and Fury midfielder Sergio Manesio. Not only were they entertaining but they raised a few bucks for charity.
All the players were individually introduced to the crowd by the coach, who had interesting tidbits to say about each one of them.
The sold-out benefit, presented by TD, brought in about $50,000 for the hospital foundation’s campaign to raise $2.5 million for a cardiac CT scanner. The campaign is chaired by well-known defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, who was also the charity auctioneer.
As well, on display was oral surgeon Hassan Moghadam's 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL, which looked like something out of a James Bond movie. He later auctioned off a chance to drive the rare classic of a car around that night. Ottawa dentist Jaideep Lal offered $500 to press the pedal to the metal.
The reason the Montfort Hospital Foundation came to be at Stonefields was because its foundation president and CEO, Christine Sigouin, had successfully applied to be the recipient of Stonefield's annual free charity giveaway.
The event committee was led by Ottawa dentist Nalin Bhargava, principal dentist at Southgate Dental and team dentist for the Fury, RedBlacks and 67’s. He has a real knack for voluntarily organizing large-scale charity events, having created the Maharaja’s Ball and Tiki Beach Gala.
“I’m ecstatic, because something like this has never been tried in Ottawa,” he told OBJ.social. “A summer gala, a participatory gala, a non-black-tie gala. To get this started was a little bit of a task but the one thing I noticed here today is that everyone had fun.”