Gala Dinner and Dance – An Evening to Remember

The 2012 – You and Me for Memories Alzheimer’s Gala

The 2012 You and Me for Memories Alzheimer’s Gala was the very first event in which Women’s Expressions participated. What an exciting and determining moment for our organization! The preparation of our booth required much work to be accomplished. Our goal was to gain exposure for the Women’s Expressions 2013 Calendar and increase its sales. All proceeds generated from the sales were to be distributed to the University of Ottawa in support of their search for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. This disease touches each and every one of us directly or indirectly. According to recent research, a new case of Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed every five minutes – by 2038, the incidence will rise to one new case every two minutes. This will affect “You and Me”.

As we prepared for the event, we strived to decorate the Women’s Expressions’ display with class. Speaking of class, Brian, as always, was our man behind the scenes who supported and assisted us (the front-runners) with a great deal of elegance and tact. He accommodated our needs, such as leaving the convention centre to fetch a Tim Hortons coffee to boost Nadine’s energy and thus increase our sales. The decoration was simple: a bouquet of red roses, chocolates to satisfy visitors’ palate and bright red calendars spread out in a manner that attracted attention. One calendar was open and placed at the center of our table to display the typical calendar month design. Nadine and Chantal were two of the models that contributed to the calendar photo shoots and were present to support Jo-Anne’s initiative to promote Women’s Expressions. We prepared four portfolios (one French copy and three English copies) in the event of possible sponsors showing interest in our funding project for the Interval House of Ottawa, a women’s shelter that aims to provide emergency shelter for women and their children fleeing from domestic violence. Each year, fundraising is required for the shelter to continue its operations.

In the same week, we had just received the printed copies of the calendar. It was printed on very good quality paper that wasn’t damaged near the gutter and was able to emanate the richness of the red colour we had chosen for the calendar. The Women’s Expressions technical team and models were very proud of the calendar and thankful for everyone’s efforts to transform this project into a very real work of art. The graphic artist was amazing in conceptualizing the calendar: Laurie is a talented person and is very dedicated to her work. Jo-Anne’s cousin, Daniel (SIMCO Communications), also played a big part in the making of the calendar. He was of tremendous help throughout the whole process and coordinated all activities to make things happen for her. Daniel helped Jo-Anne reach her goal.

Upon our arrival at the gala, Dave St-Jean, founder of ‘You and Me for Memories’ and organizer of the event, greeted us and led us to our table. The black cover definitely contrasted the red calendars and made our table outstanding and appealing. We were visited by promising buyers who congratulated us on our work and found the calendar exceptional. As people visited our table, we tried to establish key words that would encourage visitors to buy our calendar. However, we didn’t want to steal focus from the main purpose of the event, which was to fund research for Alzheimer’s disease. Perhaps this was not the best occasion to sell the calendar, but it certainly provided exposure for Women’s Expressions, as there were approximately 950 people attending the gala. We finally sold three calendars to three of Jo-Anne’s co-workers. That was definitely a start… but we were hoping to sell more calendars after dinner.

The ambiance was great at the new Ottawa Convention Centre. Soft music was playing and we had the table set for success. We were well-prepared and ready… At dinner, we all sat at our table and had a wonderful meal: a four course meal that consisted of a tasteful cream of tomato, a garden salad, chicken served with a delightful sauce for the main course and cheesecake for desert. Wine, coffee and tea were also provided.

During the meal, we were entertained by Dave himself, Dave’s father, and Bruce Levis, a volunteer who gave a speech about You and Me for Memories and the reason for its existence. Bruce also described the influence of Alzheimer’s disease on the foundation members’ lives and their belief in research as the key to the cure. The You and Me for Memories foundation accordingly selected Dr. Richard Bergeron as the sole benefactor of all funds raised. Dr. Richard Bergeron, M.D., Ph.D., FRCPC is a Senior Scientist in Neuroscience for the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and an Assistant Professor with the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine of the University of Ottawa. Dr. Bergeron and the University of Ottawa bring together the highest quality in the neurosciences, behavioral sciences, and mind disciplines to provide incredibly effective resources to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. The You and Me for Memories Foundation works collaboratively with the University of Ottawa to raise money for research to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. All money raised (100%) goes to Alzheimer research. At the gala, Dr. Bergeron delivered an amazing speech and couldn’t thank the public enough, as he believed his research wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for You and Me for Memories and the volunteers’ devotion to the cause.

Caregivers were also awarded and Mrs. Ray St-Jean was proud to present the 2012 Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year award. As the disease progresses, people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease become increasingly dependent on family members, friends, and caregivers at long-term care (LTC) facilities. LTC facility workers are especially involved in Alzheimer’s care. Their dedication to our family members and friends diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease needs to be recognized and awarded. It is also important to acknowledge our own involvement in the care of diseased patients, for the reason that Alzheimer touches us all one way or another.

Mr. Yan Michaud spoke about the importance of being physically active and developing good eating habits. He also provided tips on healthy living and self-achievement. This individual is an iron man triathlon participant, a marathoner, and an avid partaker of many other sports. He spoke lovingly and with enthusiasm, and he delivered a speech that could only motivate the crowd to become healthy and stimulate their will to deal with all of life’s events. His words were profound and very convincing.

A live auction was also conducted at the time desert was served. We were entertained by a young and dynamic actioner who was one of a kind. He managed to give an original performance. His auction carried big ticket items ranging from $3,000 to $7,000. In total, he was able to auction off more than $50,000 within an hour or so. This was undoubtedly a success.

The silent auction was intriguing as usual. It was featured again this year by popular demand. The silent auction included many unique and enticing items. The auction opened its doors at 5:00 PM and closed at 9:00 PM. Brian bet on the Pampered Chef item and won the bet. We returned home with kitchen utensils and bowls, as well as recipe books to add to our collection. Brian was very pleased as he is the devoted chef in our family.

Later that evening, a DJ and a band named ‘Sweet and the Backbeat’ entertained us with dancing music as we danced the night away. It was an enchanted evening. We ended up selling two more calendars to two gentlemen who admired our work.

In conclusion, we handed to Mr. David St-Jean a cheque of $40.00 on behalf of Women’s Expressions for the sale of five calendars in total. We are aware that this is just the beginning and we hope that we have marked our presence at the gala. Women’s Expressions will be returning next year in hope to sell more calendars and join You and Me for Memories in raising money for research on Alzheimer’s disease. By the way, one of our sponsorship portfolios mysteriously disappeared. We hope it will find its way into the hands of a supporter of the Women’s Expressions fundraising for the cause of women and children in need.

Story by: Jo-Anne
Edited by: Zoé G.

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