Gala delivers fun and funds

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The Mike Genge, president of the Foundation of the Children’s Treatment Centre; Kevin Owen, foundation board chair; and Greg Hetherington, event auctioneer are pictured here at the start of the Gala for the Kids event, which raised more than $200,000.

The taste buds remained dazzled days after the Gala for the Kids event.

The gala, which took place at the Chatham Armoury, saw about 150 people attend, and raised more than $200,000 for the Foundation of the Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent.

Mike Genge, president of the foundation, said the night was a “fantastic” hit with guests.

“What a night. It was one of those nights where everything just went perfect,” Genge said of the masquerade ball-themed event. “Everybody dressed up and everybody had masks on.”

He credited event-goers for getting into the spirit of the gala.

“They came ready to experience an event,” Genge said. “As soon as they walked in, we had an almost-circus-like act. We had jugglers, guys on unicycles, guys balancing chairs on their heads – just all kinds of stuff.”

And then came the dinner, put on by Len and Tina Acampura. Genge described it as an Italian Renaissance affair.

With people opting to consume less alcohol these days, Genge said the event featured a mocktail bar that was also a hit.

No foundation event is complete without a live and silent auction, which helped gather the funds raised. Genge said the live auction, featuring trips to Burgundy, Italy, Florida and Las Vegas, raised almost $90,000 on its own.

The evening also included dancing to a DJ and a midnight buffet, for anyone who wanted a succulent snack.

Genge said the gala would not be possible without the help of supporting businesses.

“It’s just incredible the support we get every year from our sponsors. They step up every year. They are just great people,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for them.”

Last year, the event raised in excess of $350,000, but $250,000 of that was attributed to a donation from local Rotarians.

In the wake of this year’s gala, Genge believes the event is gathering steam and interest.

The pandemic delivered a change for the foundation. The long-running and popular Festival of Giving, where upwards of 800 people gathered to party together at the Bradley Centre, had to be held virtually for several years.

What emerged from the pandemic was the gala, involving fewer participants in a more intimate setting.

The gala supports various programs and services provided by the Children’s Treatment Centre.

One in five children in Chatham-Kent access services.

The next big – and mobile – fundraiser for the foundation is the Run for the Kids, slated for June 23 in Rondeau Provincial Park.

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