No price tag is too high for a healthy community.

That was on display at Stanton Territorial Hospital Charity Foundation’s Denim and Diamonds event at the Explorer Hotel on Saturday evening. While the Foundation is still tallying its results, roughly 260 people attended.

Typically these events can raise anywhere from $50,000 to 75,000, according to Foundation executive director Patty Olexin-Lang.

Stanton Territorial Hospital Board Members & Chair, Caitlin Cleveland, Paul Gillard & Sandra MacKenzie at the gala Saturday.
Photo Courtesy of Patty Olexin-Lang / by Samantha Stuart Photography

“It’s incredible. We’re just appreciative of the companies, the organizations in Yellowknife that want to come to these events and support the different causes, especially the hospital foundation,” she said. “We’re very grateful.”

“People in Yellowknife are very generous,” Olexin-Lang. “Corporate table purchases, live & silent auction & monetary donations, it all adds up.”

They money raised this Saturday will help purchase equipment, support patience and offer additional training for healthcare professionals at the hospital. In the past the Foundation has offered support to the dialysis unit, the mammography machine and other smaller pieces.

The $2 million from an anonymous donor this June, for example, will fund a three-year mental health program aimed at youth and children. The foundation is working with the NWT Health and Social Services Authority and the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto, and is planning to have the program roll out in January.

Foundation donations can also go toward healthcare training like oncology for the professionals at Stanton Hospital. Additional training like that, typically offered only in the south, is rarely budgeted.

Support like the fundraiser can offer professionals these additional opportunities.

She added this year’s fundraiser also saw purchases through a silent auction and the organization’s catalogue — additional items like a Kangaroo e-pump Enteral feeding pump for pediatrics. Olexin-Lang estimates at least one or two of these were purchased.

One of those purchase was a friend whose daughter relied on that feeding pump for seven years, she said, adding “He purchased one. He was happy to purchase one. He said said he was just happy to be giving back.”

“Another lady said, ‘Why should I buy something that’s going to gather dust and put it somewhere on a shelf, when I can donate and spend $700 or $1000 on an item that’s going to benefit someone at the hospital.”

Meanwhile, am additional item up for purchase that night was a virtual reality system — which can be helpful for seniors and others experiencing distress —that can be used for coping and stress, anxiety and pain reduction.

“We asked the hospital for their wish list basically,”  Olexin-Lang said. “To me these, make sense that we would want to promote and help … purchase them.”

On top of the fundraising, there was a praiseworthy meal. For salad, it was northern greens with fresh berries, candied pecans and goat cheese blueberry vinaigrette before the main course. Dinner was boar bacon wrapped beef tenderloin served with roast potatoes and vegetables. Dessert — tiramisu cake with coffee — followed.

Country-rock singer Ben Chase took the stage after dinner to entertain attendees well into the evening.

It was all evidence for Olexin-Lang of the support charity can garner even in lean times.

“I think people just realize,” she said. “There’s cutbacks everywhere. These people, these corporations, they’re impacted by the downswing of Yellowknife’s economy and and the North’s economy, but they still find a way to give.”

For her, it’s proof that health is close to home. Everyone’s affected by health concerns, whether it’s a family member, friend, or co-worker. It means something that businesses and organizations can always find the money for the Foundation.

“It all revolves and people just want to give back,” she said.

Nick Pearce

Nick Pearce is a writer and reporter in Yellowknife, looking for unique stories on the environment and people that make up the North. He's a graduate of Queen's University, where he studied Global Development...

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