Chris and Jamie Ruscheinski have more than 60,000 reasons to be happy heading into the holidays.
The twin philanthropists from Langley are tired but “over the moon” excited that their second annual Long-table Gala on Saturday night raised an “incredible chunk of change” for sick and dying children.
Their sold-out gala event held at Potters Nursery this past weekend literally raised $60,200 for the Canuck Place children’s hospice in Abbotsford.
“That’s pretty fantastic,” Chris said between yawns a few day after the gala.
While a few donations are still expected, he said a few bills are still coming in – including one for a number of decorations that were broken in the Christmas-themed store Saturday night when the party got a bit loud and rambunctious.
“It was definitely a rowdy crowd,” he said with a chuckle, noting two shirtless elves and a dancing donkey helped crank up the festivities.
“Everyone was out of their seats,” he elaborated.
Chris noting how the greenhouse – which every November is transformed into a huge Christmas store – was quickly morphed from a “stunning” and elegantly beautiful long-table dining space into a bouncing nightclub-like dance floor in just minutes.
“It was a pretty loud evening,” Chris added. “But really, everything went very smoothly.”
Expressing “great appreciation” for their volunteers, he said some of the team was there until 4:30 Sunday morning, then back again at 8:30 a.m. to finish the clean up before the store had to reopen.
“With less than three hours sleep the crew looked like a scene from The Walking Dead,” he said, clarifying that a big dose of coffee, some sugar-infused snacks, Advil, and laughter were required to get them through the final stages of tear down.
“Our volunteers are absolutely amazing,” Chris said. “Our team feels more like a family. It blows my mind just how much we can count on them, and we can’t thank them enough.”
This year’s gala sold out all 275 seats in four hours.
But asked if they’ll be doing it again, Chris hesitated, partially stiffling another yawn.
“We’ll have to see,” he said.
“Honestly, it was exhausting,” Chris added. “It felt like a bigger clean up than Gone Country,” which – drawing a comparison – saw 5,000 people come together for the fifth annual charity country concert in Cloverdale in July, raising $520,000.
A lot of the credit for this event’s success goes to brothers Cam and Rob Martin of Potters who were there to defuse any technical and site issues.
“They were the behind the scenes guys who really made it go off,” Chris said. “There just aren’t words to express how grateful we are to them and to Potters… These two events would not happen without them, and we are so grateful for their support,” he said referring to the gala as well as the Rad Santa photo sessions held Thursday night.
That event raised $4,500 this year.
When giving out special thanks, he said there were many individuals who helped make it all possible, and helped ensure so much money was raised for the cause.
As an example, he pointed to Matt Cain who pulled together the silent auction “almost single-handedly” and managed to raise $7,000 – up from $4,000 collected last year.
“Thank you to everyone who came out,” Chris said. “The support this year was over the top.”
Now, according to the twins, it’s time for Twins Cancer Fundraising to start planning for Gone Country – edition #6.