22 Feb 17

February 22, 2017

All for a good cause

The funds kept rolling in after the André Philippe-Gagnon show at the Russell Sports Dome Gala at the Embrun Community Centre on Fri., Feb. 17. The cheque amount shown on this big, big cheque is $135,000, but it went up by $2,000 on the spot, when a $10,000 bid on the catered evening, including the presence of André Philippe-Gagnon, closed at $12,000. The final tally was almost $140,000. Shown are MCs Marie-Claire Ivanski and Doug Anthony, Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux, Russell Kin Club treasurer Len Tremblay, and Kin Club volunteer and organizer Cindy Anthony. Vetter photo

Sports Dome Gala glitters with André Philippe-Gagnon

Candice Vetter

Villager Staff

EMBRUN—The Russell Sports Dome Corporate Gala, featuring a show by master entertainer André Philippe-Gagnon, glittered on Fri., Feb. 17, as a capacity crowd filled the Embrun Community Centre for the black tie event. All that glitters was gold, as the event raised $140,000 for the Sports Dome project, a record amount raised in an event in Russell Township. The previous record was $71,500 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation by Marie-Claire Ivanski and her team. Said Ivanski, “I’m glad I lost it to such a great cause.”

Ticket sales were handled by Doug Anthony, Ivanski and Lucette Brisson. In a press release, Anthony said they would “highly recommend other groups to consider hiring André-Philippe Gagnon for a fundraiser…easiest tickets ever sold.”

In a departure from the usual ticket sales, organizers decided to offer corporate tables first, and all 47 tables were snapped up in seven days. Tables of eight sold for $1,200 to $10,000, with Bertrand Plumbing and Heating purchasing the $10,000 official sponsor table. “Other local companies also wanted to purchase the $10,000 table,” said Anthony. “We could have sold even more.”

The event was helped immensely by the contributions of local businesses, and 50 volunteers from the Kin Club of Russell, Russell and Embrun Optimist Clubs, and Scotiabank. Daniel Nadon, of Daniel’s No Frills in Casselman, donated all the food for the event. Anthony reported that Nadon is a huge André-Philippe Gagnon fan and Friday was his 50th birthday. As a surprise to Nadon, he and his wife got to meet Gagnon personally in a private setting. Chez Lili Party Rentals and Unique Decorations donated accessories, decorations and time to the event. Local breweries Étienne Brûlé and Brasserie Tuque de Broue Brewery and wineries Domaine Perreault and Vignoble Clos du Vully served and donated to the event. Kin Club volunteers, lead by chef Nick Kuntz and Lola Desrosiers, prepared over 7,500 hors d’oeuvres.

Besides the sale of corporate tables, many large donations were presented after the show, including $2,500 from Russell Optimist Club, $5,000 from Russell Lions Club, $5,000 from Russell Soccer Club and $30,000 from Russell Police Village Foundation, among many others. A catered evening, including a visit from Gagnon himself, was auctioned off for $12,000. A high-quality silent auction and cash donations box added to the funds raised.

The show, which lasted about an hour and a half, consisted of Gagnon and his sound manager. Gagnon’s vocal range was astounding, befitting the “man with a thousand voices” as he is billed. His singing impressions covered 60 years of popular music, with voices of Buddy Holly, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Chubby Checker, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, the Beegees, Barry White, Axl Rose, and even the Natalie Cole—Nat King Cole duet, Unforgettable. The crowd eagerly welcomed each number, laughing out loud and often clapping or singing along. Perhaps the most notable point in the program, and the one which showcased Gagnon’s talent, was his impression of a non-celebrity audience member, whom he had just met that moment.

As all the corporate tables sold so quickly, there was no opportunity for the public to buy individual tickets, so in a surprise at the end of the night, MCs Anthony and Ivanski announced that Gagnon has been booked for another show, with tickets available to the public, during the afternoon of Sat., April 22, with further details to be announced. Tickets will go on sale shortly by the Russell Kin Club.