Starlight Gala for Palmerston Hospital set another cash record

Initial projections indicate that close to $200,000 was raised May 24 at the eighth annual Starlight Gala held at the PMD arena.

“Our community has re­sponded again with an overwhelming display of support for their hospital,” said Gary Chard, development officer with the Palmerston and Dis­trict Hospital Foundation.

Chard explained on Mon­day that the total had reached the $200,000 mark, although there are still expenses to be paid and final tallies to be made. But at that point last year, the 2007 gala had raised $190,000 – which means the 2008 event will likely become the third in as many years to break the gala fundraising record.

Proceeds from the event this year will spent on the purchase of new intravenous pumps and colonoscopy equipment for the hospital.

Chard said 570 people thoroughly enjoyed “a fun-filled evening,” which was emceed by Scott Pettigrew and Phil Main from CKNX Radio, and featured a 15-item live auction (Auctioneer Barry Gray and family), a 275-item silent auction, a “wonderful” meal from T&M Barbeque Catering, hors d’oeuvres by Helen Mc­Fad­zean, dessert by the Drayton United Church ladies with the food serving by “Willing Hands” from Drayton, and a dance with music from Danny and The Heartbreakers.

There was also a surprise performance by cast members from The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom, which is now playing at the Drayton Festival Theatre.

“It was just a great evening all around,” Chard said, noting there were more sponsors and more money raised by sponsors than ever before. This year’s gala featured a 1950s theme, including the transformation of part of the arena floor into a drive-in theatre from that dec­ade, complete with classic cars and a huge screen.

Over 70 volunteers took part in the organization of the event – a far cry from the inaugural event eight years ago, which was organized by a small group of nurses.

“It has just taken off,” Chard said. “It’s a very enjoyable evening and it has become known as a great social event.”

Chard said he is blown away every year by the amount of support shown by those who attend.

“It takes a whole community to keep quality care and health care excellence close to home,” he said. “The communities of Mapleton, Minto, and surrounding areas are leaders in their care and support for their hospital.”

Chard said the final numbers for the gala will be available within a few weeks.

The gala annually changes locations between Drayton, Palmerston, and Harriston, and is one of the largest hospital fundraisers. The foundation will soon start preparations for its largest fundraiser, the Radio­thon, to be held this fall.