Visitors literally dug for 'diamonds' as part of the gala evening's events.

Innovation key to growing the gala

New ideas generate extra money for the hospital foundation.

Walking into any gala event, guests expect there will be a silent auction, possibly a live auction, and usually some other themed raffle or fundraising initiative.

For the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation, which has been serving the community for more than 30 years, the annual Denim & Diamonds gala is no exception to this rule.

Event organizers count on sponsors to help defray much of the cost of putting on such an event, while they rely on ticket sales and fundraising initiatives during the gala to bring in cash for the cause.

In the case of the hospital foundation, and Saturday’s largest ever gala, it was a mix of all the traditional aspects of the event, sprinkled with a few new ideas, that pushed them to one of the largest fundraising totals in the organization’s history, said foundation spokesperson Errin Young.

Saturday’s live auction – with seven packages on the selling block – brought in more than $50,000. A fishing package garnered $6,000 over the retail price of $8,500.

And Young pointed out that two of the prize donors – present at the event – agreed to give another prize to the runner-up bidders, if they’d match the top bid. In this case, that was both a Sailing Vancouver cruise for six, and the Local Gourmet four-course meal for 12.

There was also a silent auction, and donations collected at the tables, plus the event’s trademark Diamond Dig – where guests pay $20 for a chance to dig through  giant sandbox for a “fake” diamond and chances to win prizes, including the opportunity to take home a $1,350 blue sapphire and diamond ring. This year, that piece of jewelry, donated by Golden Tree, was won by Deborah Benson.

But new to the fundraising arena this year, the foundation auctioned off the rights for one table of guests to move up to the front, to a VIP table.

That table alone generated an additional $5,750, which Young said was a “huge” boost.

But the surprise, organizers say, this year was the generosity and popularity to a mock operating room set up where people could witness, touch, and even try out pieces of surgical equipment, then purchase a number of surgical tools from the OR wishlist.



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