Caroline Phillips’ Around Town: Sens make a difference at 65 Roses gala

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Ottawa Senators player Erik Karlsson is photographed with fan Diann Young at the 65 Roses Cystic Fibrosis Gala held Thursday, February 23, 2012 at the Hampton Inn and Conference Centre. (Photograph by Caroline Phillips/The Ottawa Citizen)

At least no Sens players are off with cramped fingers (on top of their goalie’s sliced digit) as a result of all the merchandise signing they did Thursday at the 65 Roses Cystic Fibrosis Gala.

The sold-out event saw celebrity chair Nick Foligno of the Ottawa Senators attend with fellow teammates Erik Condra, Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek, Zack Smith, Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris and their partners. The players spent time with fans of all ages, signing hats and jerseys and mugging for cameras at the Hampton Inn.

The gala, along with the sports ticket campaign, has raised $188,000 for local cystic fibrosis research.

Foligno, well into his second year of involvement with the cause, said the experience has been “very satisfying” for him and his wife, Janelle.

“You just feel like you’re making a difference,” said Foligno, who appreciates working with dedicated volunteer Nadine Imbleau-Redman and her husband, Rob. “They’re just so passionate and they want to make a difference, so it’s nice to be part of that.”

At the gala, Imbleau-Redman received a surprise United Way community builder award from MC Max Keeping, head of the 2011 United Way community campaign, before a crowd of 450. The award recognized Imbleau-Redman’s exceptional contributions in the fight against cystic fibrosis, particularly as gala organizer and volunteer regional director at Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

The Redmans’ sons, Paul, 16, and Anthony, 14, have cystic fibrosis. The brothers, both students at All Saints High School in Kanata, later took to the stage to play drums and guitar with the JW-Jones blues band.

CF is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting young Canadians. While many with CF are living longer (half are surviving beyond 31), CF ambassador Lisa Lawrenson, 24, wishes she could be more financially independent. She’s on disability because it covers the expense of her costly medications — something her full-time job didn’t really do.

Lawrenson was escorted to the head table on the athletic arm of Spezza (his wife, Jennifer, was absent because she’s due to have their second child in a matter of weeks).

Snow couldn’t stop ’em

Friday’s dump of snow didn’t keep the card sharps away from the 4th annual Chips for Charity Texas Hold ’em Poker night in support of Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support Programs.

Players from as far as Orléans, Stittsville and South Mountain drove through the storm for the sold-out, 64-person event at Trattoria Caffé Italia on Preston Street. The $4,500 raised will help families dealing with the financial strains that come with battling a life-threatening disease.

Candlelighters’ Jocelyn Lamont and Tamsin Roach organized the night with commercial insurance broker Gary Thomas of Lalande Insurance and Rob Sametz of Rogers Media Publishing.

There were loads of prizes, including an iPad 2, hockey tickets and granite vanity from Rona. Supporters included Joey Harrison, VP of sales for the hardware technology and consulting company Decisive, and Emilia Therens, who’s serious enough about the game to recently get a tattoo of the four-card suit symbols on her forearm.

Doctor turned patient

Eighteen months ago, Dr. Donald Chow made the front pages after nearly losing his life in a motorcycle crash. Even though the news story faded, the road to recovery certainly didn’t for the orthopedic surgeon and member of the Ottawa Senators medical team.

Chow was back in the headlines last week as testimonial speaker at the annual Hope and Heroes dinner held Tuesday at The Westin in support of The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre.

The room was all ears as Chow shared details of his accident and his subsequent time at the rehab centre, or, in his words, “one of Ottawa’s best-kept health-care secrets.”

The good doctor repeatedly expressed his gratitude to the health-care professionals who helped him along the way. He was thanked, too, for his courage and determination in the form of a rousing ovation from the 550-person crowd.

Chow attended with his wife, Angela, and one of their two children, Andrei, 28. Seated with them was The Ottawa Hospital Foundation’s president and CEO, Tim Kluke, and Michael LeClair from the hospital foundation board.

LeClair of Ottawa Business Interiors is one of the founders of Hope and Heroes. So is Brad Marsh, president of the Ottawa Senators Alumni group of former Sens and pro hockey players. John and Fred Barrett, Laurie Boschman, Shean Donovan, Bill Kitchen and Shawn Rivers were among the Sens Alumni seen helping at the dinner.

Attendees included government Senate leader Marjory LeBreton and her sister, Kay Stanley, who are cousins of the Barrett brothers.

Representing title sponsor Scotiabank was branch manager Al Balfe. Also present were Helen Zipes, clinical director of the Rehab Centre, MC and auctioneer Stuntman Stu, and the featured performer, comedian Jessica Holmes.

The dinner raised $45,000-plus, bringing the nine-year total to $436,000.

Farewell to police chief

In his 31 years of policing, involving 16 moves, Vern White has intentionally gone without any farewell parties. Until last week, that is, when the outgoing police chief was twice feted by the community in support of causes dear to his heart.

“I clearly did come to this party because it was about s.t.e.p.,” he told 100 guests at the Hail to the Chief dinner held at the Barrhaven Legion last Sunday.

Roughly $10,000 was raised for Project s.t.e.p., a residential youth treatment centre that White helped to establish. Next up for White is the senate.

“I wish you the best as you go from the blue line to the red chamber,” said Gloucester-South Nepean Councillor Steve Desroches.

Desroches hosted the dinner with Barrhaven Councillor Jan Harder.

Also at the head table were Mayor Jim Watson; Councillor Eli El-Chantiry, head of the Ottawa Police Services Board, and his wife, Maha; Korean War veteran Gus Este, president of the Barrhaven Legion; and White’s wife, Sari, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Other attendees included Ottawa Police Deputy Chief Gilles Larochelle and director general Debra Frazer, Max Keeping and United Way CEO Michael Allen, who went home with one of the prize gift baskets.

White was honoured again Friday at a breakfast in support of the Boys and Girls Club.

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