It wasn’t just the Nutcracker theme and astonishing amount raised — $905,000 — during the eighth annual Jingle Mingle that set it apart from last year’s B.C. Cancer Foundation fundraiser.
“How about that no-snow forecast?”quipped CTV weather host Astrid Braunschmidt. The event’s emcee was referring to an obvious difference after a string quartet of Victoria Conservatory of Music students played familiar Tchaikovsky classics in the Empress Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom, festooned with bunches of plump purple balloons and giant wooden soldiers.
While lithe young Pacific Dance Centre ballerinas conjured visions of sugarplum fairies, many guests expressed relief they could comfortably appreciate such wintry magic this time out.
It was a different story last year when ice, snow and sub-zero temperatures caused power outages that paralyzed traffic. It delayed arrivals and temporarily required use of emergency generators.
Funds raised during Thursday’s reliably elaborate soiree presented by Proline Property Managers will directly support construction of a clinical-grade T cell production suite at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Trev & Joyce Deeley Research Centre. The next step in DRC director Dr. Brad Nelson and his team’s groundbreaking immunotherapy research provides the “clean room” where scientists will culture patients’ T cells in a sterile department for clinical trials.
Proceeds during the live auction included a $150,000 gift from longtime supporters Danny and Sandy Jadresko of Woodmere Holdings Corp. It triggered a wave of support, including $100,000 gifts from philanthropists Jo Campbell and entrepreneur David Black.
The tally surpassed early projections by Douglas Nelson, B.C. Cancer Foundation president and CEO, who hoped they’d match last year’s $620,000 tally.
“The science is world-class. Dr. Brad Nelson and his team are asking questions no one else is asking and as a result of last year, they’re able to have some answers no one else has,” he said.
Event chairman Dan Sharp says it amazes him how community donors step up, as so many did last year when inclement weather might have tempted them to stay home.
“People here are so generous about giving back,” said Sharp. “We see Victoria donating the most per capita for any city in Canada. They just get it.”
The Jingle Mingle traditionally gives guests an excuse to dress up, an opportunity a bewigged, pretty-in-pink Charlotte Rennison seized.
The ubiquitous Victoria Costumes owner snaked her way through a sea of elegant black suits and evening dresses displaying a one-carat diamond valued at $7,000. It was being raffled off for $100-a-ticket, with her assistants placing oversized, flashing fake diamond rings on potential buyers.
Opting for a style recalling Noel Coward, B.C. Cancer Agency’s vice-president of research Samuel Abraham looked dapper with his paisley-patterned ascot.
“I ride an old-fashioned BMW motorcyle and one of the most useful things in this weather is an ascot,” he deadpanned.
Proline Property Managers president Eric Spurling said his company came on board as presenting sponsor because “research brings people hope.”
He cited as an example the case of his aunt, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 16.
“We celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary this summer,” he said.
The Jadreskos initially got involved with the B.C. Cancer Foundation six years ago when they toured the facility, and are astonished by how its research staff and achievements have grown, Danny said.
“Cancer touches everybody and we feel good being able to support local research, local scientists, local students and of course a cure for cancer,” he said.
Any doubts about the level of passion organizing committee members Peter and Shannon Baillie have for Jingle Mingle were extinguished on the night coinciding with their 27th wedding anniversary.
“When we talked about how we’d celebrate our 27th anniversary, we said this is what we’ll do,” said Peter.