Caroline Phillips’ Around Town: A heartfelt thanks from Daron’s family

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Retired senator Laurier LaPierre and hotel employee Claire Sanderson in period costume at the Fairmont Château Laurier's grand centennial celebration, held Thursday, May 31, 2012. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

You can take the Richardsons out of Ottawa but you can’t take Ottawa out of the Richardsons.

As hockey fans know by now, NHL veteran Luke Richardson is the new head coach of the Ottawa Senators’ farm team, the Binghamton Senators in New York state, but he and his family are keeping their Ottawa home as their permanent digs and will stay committed to DIFD.

“This is not just our home, it’s our community,” Richardson told Around Town at an appreciation party he and his wife, Stephanie, hosted Wednesday at their beautiful west-end waterfront property.

The get-together was to thank supporters of the Do It For Daron campaign that’s seen kids talking more openly about teen mental health issues. The campaign was launched through the Royal Ottawa Foundation after the unexpected suicide death in 2010 of the Richardsons’ 14-year-old daughter, Daron.

Among the 80 guests were Sound Venture V-P Katherine Jeans, who produced a Power to the Purple tear-jerker video; ZaZaZa’s Ion Aimers, who, most notably, upped awareness by painting his New Edinburgh gourmet pizza joint a DIFD purple; and ScotiaMcLeod wealth advisers David Cork and Paul Delfino, who, with ScotiaMcLeod employees, raised funds for youth mental health research at CHEO.

Other guests were Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson and his wife, Bibbi; Cindy Tomlinson Keon, whose family-owned Centurion Conference and Event Centre catered the party; DIFD fund chair Kris McGinn; and the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group’s president, George Weber as well as foundation president, Andrée Steel.

Also present was the Richardsons’ daughter Morgan, 18, who’s off to Cornell University this fall to study and play hockey.

LANDLUBBERS WELCOME

They say the East Coast is home to some of the nicest, friendliest folks, and that was just the kind of crowd to attend the 18th annual Evening in the Maritimes, held Thursday at the Hilton Lac-Leamy.

The event surpassed its goal by netting roughly $105,000 for Citizen Advocacy of Ottawa, a grassroots organization that matches volunteer advocates to people with disabilities.

Support has been “phenomenal,” said executive director Brian Tardif of both long-time sponsors and individuals and of new partners coming on board. “I think for many, they see it as one of the best fundraisers in Ottawa.”

This year saw 720 tickets sold as guests slapped on their bibs for a five-course lobster dinner followed by live fiddle music from Celtic fusion band Sprag Session. Seen kicking up his heels was Senator Jim Munson as well as Mark Fleming from presenting sponsor Johnson & Johnson.

The event’s new honourary chair is community leader Marc Jolicoeur, managing partner of sponsor Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Also there were TV personality Kurt Stoodley as MC, event co-chairs Barry McKenna and Jeff Snyder and Timothy Andradé as the gavel-swinging auctioneer.

A dinner for 10 with Senators’ star Jason Spezza at Urban Element sold for $4,000, as did a box suite for a Sens game. The trip to Hawaii spurred bidding wars but Gary Cameron, a V-P with sponsor Bell, got it for $5,000.

MORE FIDDLIN’

There was more fiddle music to be found Thursday at the Rockcliffe Park home of Irish Ambassador Ray Bassett, who hosted a fundraising reception for supporters of the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra.

Composer, conductor and violinist Kevin Mallon, who’s also the music director for Thirteen Strings, was seen enjoying a Guinness before playing with fellow musicians to a crowd of 175. “I’m only playing Irish fiddle music,” he amiably explained of his pre-performance pint.

Mallon is from Belfast while the ambassador is from Dublin. The Irishmen weren’t acquainted back on the Emerald Isle but Mallon has since made a good impression on the diplomat. “Not only is he a good musician but he’s a tremendous personality,” Bassett told Around Town.

Thirteen Strings is administered by a volunteer board of directors led by Gowlings LLP partner Rob MacDonald.

HOTEL HITS 100

“It’s a homecoming,” Estrellita Karsh told Around Town inside the Renaissance-style ballroom of the Fairmont Château Laurier, where a 400-person crowd of who’s who from Ottawa was seen celebrating the centennial anniversary of the iconic hotel Thursday.

Estrellita resides in Boston but famously lived at the Château for 18 years with her late husband, the great portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh. Estrellita said she frequently comes back to visit, and dines exclusively at the hotel. She’s particularly close with the general manager, Claude Sauvé, and PR director, Deneen Perrin.

The Château Laurier staff is like family to her. “They were like family to my husband, too,” added Estrellita, who, at 82, is as sprightly as ever.

The hotel threw a class act party with fancy food and drinks, entertainment by a quartet from the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and such historical touches as women dressed in period costume.

“This grand hotel has seen it all,” said Sauvé. “It’s lived through two world wars, survived The Great Depression and has hosted everything from state dinners to debutante balls.”

Guests also heard from Fairmont president Jennifer Fox, Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism Maxime Bernier, and even a Charles Melville Hays lookalike, who addressed guests from the ballroom balcony with lit candelabra in hand. Hays was the visionary behind the hotel but missed the grand opening due to his ill-fated voyage on the Titanic.

THE GOOD NEWS IS …

If heart disease is in your cards, you’ve picked the right city to live in.

“Residents of Ottawa with heart disease have a better survival rate than any other municipality in Canada,” Heart Institute Foundation chairman Paul LaBarge told Around Town at the annual Fuller-Keon Golf Tournament for the Heart Institute, held Monday at Loch March.

The Institute, led by Dr. Bob Roberts, is among the best cardiovascular health centres in the country and ranks in the top two per cent of research institutions, worldwide, added LaBarge, who underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2008.

The Ottawa lawyer spent his day driving and putting with Jim Orban, president of the Heart Institute Foundation, and its past chairman, Alan Rottenberg, and Heart Institute chairman Lawrence Soloway, followed by a heart-healthy salmon dinner.

The event, once again chaired by Ability Janitorial V-P Jim Reklitis, netted $104,000 and drew 160 golfers, including former NFLer Jesse Palmer. He secured the auction item of a commemorative Super Bowl football signed by MVP Eli Manning of the New York Giants. It sold to Loch March owner Mark Fuller for $1,100.

Carolyn001@sympatico.ca

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