Since Jamie Ruscheinski has a five-month-old son named Iver, and Chris Ruscheinski now has an 11-month-old named Theodore, the Langley twins are looking to expand their charitable efforts to include more family-oriented events.
The 35-year-old pair of realtors and philantrophists created the popular Gone Country: Here for the Cure – an annual cancer-related music fundraiser in Cloverdale for the past four years. This year’s event raised alone in excess of $344,000 that was earmarked to build a music room and recording studio for sick kids at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Abbotsford.
Three months ago, amid all the attention around their new children and their work with Canuck Place, the local boys were motivated to expand the demographics of their charitable efforts.
Hence, Chris said, the creation of two new events: Rad Santa and the Long-Table Christmas Ga la lalala lalalala.
Both of these new fundraisers happen this Saturday and both are being hosted at Potters Nursery on 192nd Street.
The day starts with Rad Santa (yes, it’s a take off from Bad Santa, since the second movie is set to be released soon), Chris explained.
This event revolves around and was inspired by the twins’ little bundles of joy, he added, then muffling a chuckle as he explained that his little bundle is not so little and comes with mass quantities of fur.
Theodore, who will be first in line for the Rad Santa event this weekend, is a Bernese mountain dog – well, puppy actually, already weighing in at a whopping a hundred pounds.
Rad Santa is a day-long event offering family photos with Santa, all by donation to the Twins Cancer Fundraising.
It won’t be any traditional pictures with Ol’ St. Nick, Chris explained. Potters is bringing a rustic old shed on site and helping fill it with old toys and other natural and antiquated decorations that will serve as a backdrop for the picture-taking, Chris said.
Pet photos will be taken from 10 to 11 a.m., followed by kids and family photos being taken from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hot chocolate and apple cider will be served to guests while they wait, said Chris, noting folks might have to wait a bit.
He pleaded with people to be patient and generous, remembering they’re new at this kind of undertaking, and noting again that it’s all for a good cause.
“Be kind. This is our first crack at this,” Chris added. “In fact, we’ve never done a Christmas event before… We’ll do our very best.”
He noted that “every penny of proceeds will be donated to Canuck Place Abbotsford,” hopeful the two events can generate $35,000 for the kids.
Feasting for kids
Rad Santa will be followed by the new Christmas gala later that same evening at Potters.
The nursery closes at 6 p.m., and in one feverishly mad dash, volunteers will spend the next hour transforming much of the 28,000-square-feet of greenhouses into a gala ballroom.
The fact that much of the nursery space has already been converted into the hugely popular and giant Christmas store makes the task a little easier, Chris said, but noted they’re still a little unclear how they’re going to amass the space into a grand dining room with several tables each capable of seating 40 to 50 guests in such a short window of time.
“We’ll do it. I have no question. I’m just not sure how,” Chris said.
Only days out from the event, he and fellow volunteers are still optimistic the 250-seat event will sell out. Tickets are $115 and available through the Twins Cancer Fundraising Facebook page.
“We only have a few tickets left,” he said, noting it’s a semi-formal and fun event that will see guests at various themed tables.
In addition to the three-course Italian “community-style” feast being served up by Sammy J’s, and the wine being served up by Chaberton Estate, the adult-only evening will feature a silent auction, some surprise entertainment, and a chance to buy gifts for kids at Canuck Place Abbotsford.
The brothers asked for a wishlist from the kids currently residing at the Abbotsford children’s hospice, purchased items off each child’s list, and will have those for sale (items ranging in value from $45 to $500 each) at the event.
As guests buy the gifts, they will be wrapped and loaded in a waiting Santa sleigh.
Chris is optimistic this different way of giving will prove popular – but more important, meaningful – for the guests.
“You only have to realize that many of these kids will not be around come next Christmas, and it’s easy to open up your pocketbook and help make their wishes come true,” Chris said.
Expected to live on
The Ruscheinski boys were crowned as the humanitarians of the year at the B.C. Country Music Association awards last month for all they’ve done through the years to raise close to $2 million for various cancer-related causes and charities.
These philanthropic projects were born out of the loss of their mother and a close friend to cancer.
The first fundraiser actually happened 14 years ago in their father’s backyard, Chris recounted. It was a huge barbecue that raised almost $22,000. That was the impetus for what would become Gone Country.
And while the duo have tried a few other events through the years that haven’t continued, including the Banger in the Hangar a few years back at the Langley Regional Airport, they’re expecting the concept for the Christmas gala and the family day with “Rad Santa” to become annual fundraisers.
Eternally grateful to Potters for all their support through the years, to this and other projects, Chris said he just learned tonight that the company is not only graciously letting them take over much of the space for the day, but they’ve also agreed to match dollar-for-dollar all the money raised from the Rad Santa component of the fundraiser.