$4 MILLION CRYSTAL For only the second time in its 32 years, the Crystal Ball, B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation’s flagship fundraiser, reached the $4 million mark. More than 400 wellheeled guests helped raise the impressive haul to help transform health care for kids. And for the second consecutive year, mental health care was the focus of attention at the always-extravagant dinner and auction, sponsored by the Beedie Development Group.
Staged at the Four Seasons Hotel, and steered by twotime chair Jennifer Johnston and a powerful group of social influencers and do-gooders, the ballroom was once again transformed into a golden party palace. Inspired by this year’s theme of Zen and mindfulness, attendees tucked into a menu of Asian-inspired cuisine before opening their big hearts and even bigger wallets.
The night’s special guests — Ginny Dennehy and youth champion Laura — shared their tearful stories of courage and strength. Dennehy’s world was turned upside down when her teenage son, dealing with deep depression, took his life.
Laura was also fighting intense feelings of sadness and emptiness. Threatening to commit suicide, her parents immediately took her to B.C. Children’s Hospital for psychiatric care.
Laura’s story would have a happy ending. She started an undergraduate program at Queen’s University this fall following long-term care at the hospital’s pediatric mental health unit. She received the personalized attention and therapy she needed. Her mom Alison credits counselling and treatment for her daughter’s recovery and new outlook.
“Across the province, 84,000 children and youth are experiencing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, but 70 per cent are not receiving the care they need,” said Teri Nicholas, B.C. Children’s Hospital CEO, addressing the capacity crowd. “And when they do, it can be years after the first symptoms are noticed. With your help we can change that.”
Gala-goers would respond in spades, first spending more than $250,000 in the live auction. The call for cash would see guests dig even deeper into their designer bags and billfolds.
Donations ranging from $1,000 to $250,000 rained down contributing another $1.25 million to the final tally. Last year, there were more than 16,000 visits to B.C. Children’s Hospital from kids who accessed mental health services.
Among the evening’s generous donors: Ayra and Hamid Eshghi, Lisa and Mike Hudson, Laurie and Barry Cavanaugh, Tracey and Brooke Wade, Pamela and David Richardson, Desha and Suki Sekhon, Diane and John Norton, Pixie and David Riddle, Priscilla Lam and Francis Lo, Stephanie Carlson, Maria Freeman, Stephanie Miller, Sherry Doman , Jacqui Prokopanko and Jura Kim.