Tuesday, November 24, 2015

6th annual Angels Within Us fundraiser held in Pincher Creek

Toni Lucas

Angels Within Us hosted their 6th annual fundraising banquet and auction at the Pincher Creek Community Hall on Saturday, November 21, selling over 325 tickets.  President Sherry Mackenzie addressed the crowd after the dinner to say, "I am very lucky.  The Angels work well together, because of the people I work with.  They are amazing people, I cannot say enough about them."  She thanked the board members, their family and spouses for their support, as well as the people who had braved the winds to attend the event and those who donated during the evening and throughout the year.

This is the main fundraising drive for the foundation, who supports people within the community who are facing trouble and need a hand up.  The Angels Within Us Foundation reviews situations where local people are facing stress, usually because of health related issues, and look for ways to help. This year the unofficial total for the fundraiser was an impressive $55,000.

Sherry Mackenzie banters with auctioneer Darren Shaw
There were donated items on tables surrounding the room from local businesses and individuals, all awaiting silent auction bids.  The items ranged from the practical to the whimsical, decorative to functional, hand crafted to mass produced.  All had bids that crept up monetarily as the evening progressed.  Honesty Heppner donated a crocheted 8 foot round table cloth.  She originally made it for her sister, and it turned out to be too large for her sisters needs.  This labour of love took one and a half years to make during quiet evenings.

one of many tables of silent auction items
Supervisor at PC health center lab Sandra Breckenridge and Nikki Gross took to the stage. Breckenridge acted as the speaker saying Gross works as a X-Ray Technician in Pincher Creek Health Centre.  "In 2015 Nikki started feeling kind of rough,"  said Breckenridge.  The local health centre ran tests to find out what was the issue, but the diagnosis was elusive.  "I remember through all of it Nikki saying to me,  'I just need a diagnosis, because I can't fight what I don't know'."  The diagnosis was eventually discovered; lymphoma.  Breckenridge said, "When it's one of our own, it really shakes our foundation."  Gross received help from friends and co-workers, but the financial difficulties started to add up.  "We stood behind our friend, and supported her.  These people then stood behind a stranger, and supported her in ways we couldn't. Simply because of what her postal code was.   That is truly amazing.  Now our girl can concentrate on what she does really, really well.  She is kicking cancers ass."  Breckenridge  wanted to thank the foundation for their work.  "Thank you to this organization for doing what we couldn't do."

Nikki Gross and Sandra Breckenridge
Kirk Weisshaar and Lachlan Rempel represented their daughter Ellie  "I'm already starting to cry,"  said Rempel.  Angels Within Us has helped the family for the last 3 years for their daughter Ellie, who is now 4 years old.  Ellie has a very rare syndrome, Chromosome 15q Duplication Syndrome (Dup15q micro duplication).  Some of the side effects of this disorder can include poor muscle tone that affects a child's ability to move, talk, and even breathe. Other delays include gross and fine motor control, speech, cognitive disability, sensory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. Physical, occupational and speech therapy along with special education techniques can help children with this condition.   "She most likely will not walk, so we are being preemptive on things, Angels are helping us out along the road."  Rempel said, "This organization is one of a kind.  The Children's Hospital knows it, the doctors there know it.  It's very rare to get an organization that is 100% volunteer.  All of the profit goes to the people in a small community." Rempel said over the years the foundation has helped with bills, special needs equipment, and this year the installation of a wheelchair ramp.

Lachlan Rempel and Kirk Weisshaar
"Everyone we meet has a unique story, and they are unique people.  You come to love them, and appreciate your story, and theirs," said Mackenzie who reported the Angels have gained $266,566 to date, not including what they had raised that evening.  They have used these funds to assist 39 families, 11 of those families in 2015. "I am truly grateful to live here and be part of it."  She acknowledged the many businesses, people, and groups which make the evening possible.  Silver Reins 4-H and the Oldtimers Hockey Association are just two of the organizations who work to make this evening a success.

Creakers Old Timers at the bar
The live auction by the Southern Alberta Livestock Exchange crew included Darren Shaw running the microphone, with seasoned ringman Alan Lively working the floor.  This year they were assisted by guest ringmen Bryan Mackenzie and John Arnold spotting bids on the floor.  The first item up for bid was a rare opportunity to ride the CPR Holiday Train between Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass.  Stacey and Michel Stauffer won the bidding for that, gaining $1,300 for the foundation and making a rousing start on the evening with 17 lots left to go in the auction.  After all the scheduled items were auctioned off, three cooked roasts were auctioned off to help tip that funding a little bit higher.

 A few of the 4-H Silver Reins members waiting to serve
Once the bidding was done the band 'Who's Yer Daddy' took to the stage.  Performing cover tunes from the 60s to now, the band has been entertaining crowds for 11 years in Lethbridge and the surrounding area. They got the crowd up and dancing for the rest of the night.  There were a lot of new faces in the crowd, people who for reasons of their own chose to become an Angel, if only for an evening.

Who's Yer Daddy
For those that are looking to donate, volunteer, join the board or make a request to Angels Within Us they can talk to a board member, email, or visit their Facebook page.  You can also mail them at Angels Within Us, Box 911, Pincher Creek, AB, T0K 1W0.

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