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Hospital build sweeps up at weekend curl-a-thon – $51,103.90 raised

The final tally is in with the Curl-A-Thon organizers presenting $51,103.90 to the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation Back the Build campaign. Pictured on the site of the new hospital Tuesday afternoon, from left, are: Briar Boyce, senior development officer with PECMHF; Pam Piercey, curling club; Joanne Tammel, curling club; Barbara McConnell, chairperson of the PECMHF; Ron Stakes, curling club; Tom Dmytar, curling club; Brian Eden, curling club; Sue Locke, curling club; Lana Whitteker, curling club; Sherry Tait, director on the PECMHF Board and Shannon Coull, executive director of the PECMH Foundation. Abi Sampson photo


By Sharon Harrison

Local curlers raised a whopping $42,330-plus toward the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Back the Build campaign in a 24-hour Curl-A-Thon this past weekend, far exceeding anyone’s expectations.

“A huge, huge thank-you to all of you, we are raising $27 million to build a new hospital for Prince Edward County and we have raised over $21 million as of this tournament – we are almost speechless,” said Shannon Coull, Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation (PECMHF) executive director.

“It’s my understanding their goal was for $15,000, and at the end of the day, we will be looking at over $50,000 which is just incredible, and it really showcases the strength of our community and why Prince Edward County is such an amazing place to live; we are very, very fortunate.”

The jubilant and energized crowd, some sleep deprived having curled overnight or in the wee hours, were full of high spirits and cheer at the sense of achievement as things wrapped-up at the noon hour Sunday.

“When all is said and done, I told you we were going to give you a big bag of cash!” announced Ron Stakes with the Curl-A-Thon organizing committee.

The more than $42,000 raised so far came from pledges only, and is expected to rise to close to $50,000 once sums are calculated from proceeds from the 50/50 draw, the silent auction, the square game, as well as food sales from the kitchen.

“We sat down in our first meeting and we hoped to put this event together and maybe get $15,000 for the Foundation and Back the Build,” said Stakes.

Hosted by the Prince Edward Curling Club located at the Picton Fairgrounds, the sold-out hospital fundraiser ran from noon on Saturday, wrapping-up Sunday at noon.

In addition to Stakes, members of the Prince Edward Curling Club Curl-A-Thon organizing committee include Pam Piercey, Brian Eden, Heather Haldane, Tom Dmytar, Jo Tammel, Lana Whitteker and Susan Locke.

“The group came together just before Christmas when the curling club wanted to put on a function to support Back the Build, and we put out a call, and they answered the call,” explained Stakes. “We started with a concept and we threw it out to the membership who grabbed onto it, the community grabbed onto it, the businesses contributed to this event in some fashion.”

Along with many of the participating curlers, present also was Stacey Daub, president and CEO of Quinte Health, Coull, and Monica Alyea, PECMHF board member.

Coull spoke to the energy in the room and the joy she felt.

“Thanks for including us in this amazing experience; you guys have blown us away!” said Coull, “it feels so good to be in a crowd with all of you; you really do symbolize what the County is all about and are touched by your support.

“We walked into the room and you could feel the energy, it was so positive, the entire community literally has come together to help us raise money for Back the Build, and we’re so grateful for the incredible support that’s come forward and how much that’s been raised in just 24 hours,” said Coull.

“The amount of time that the volunteers have put in, people showed up at two and three and four in the morning to play, it’s just incredible that people went out of their way to contribute to such a successful event and we couldn’t be prouder of our community and more grateful, it’s been fantastic.”

This was a community event for a community cause as anyone from the community (age 18-plus) was welcome to participate.

Open to not just curling club members, but anyone with any level of expertise was welcome, even those who had not curled before, as the club provided a brief introduction to the sport, as well as the use of key equipment.

Past chair and long-time PECMHF board member Monica Alyea has been with the Foundation since September 2011 and has followed and contributed to the new hospital’s fundraising journey for many years.

She spoke to the number of families and the community served by the hospital, but also to events like this one that brings people together where she said it was also important to have fun with these types of fundraisers.

“This new hospital is going to be state-of-the-art in North America, it’s going to have geo-thermal, it’s going to have a CAT machine, and every room will have its own bathroom,” said Alyea.

She also noted how the small delay in the completion date for the new hospital has positively meant a small change with a new design to improve infection control.

“Aren’t we lucky in this community that we are on the receiving end of this,” said Alyea. “Who would have thought COVID, as awful as it’s been, could have a little silver lining, we’ve learned a lot of things.

“We have a very invitational place coming to us as far as doctors who want to practice, doctors who want a quality of life that goes with doctoring and we have a state-of-the art facility that they are going to have and they are part of a network of a facility under the Quinte Health banner.”

A silent auction with around 25 items ran throughout the tournament, along with the sale of
50/50 tickets, a square game, as well as food offerings which were also sold for a donation toward the cause.

Stakes said they had originally entertained the idea of running a fundraising bonspiel with teams, but the logistics didn’t allow the opportunity to raise as much money as the Curl-A-Thon would.

“We said, let’s go for 24 hours, but let’s have eight new players every two hours, and let’s ask every one of them to raise a minimum of $100 in pledges towards Back the Build,” said Stakes.

“What we found out was, as soon as we went out to the community, we didn’t have to beg for pledges, people were seeking us out and they were giving big donations.”

The Curl-A-Thon was also open to the public throughout the 24-hours who were free to drop by at anytime to watch the games at no charge.

The community Curl-A-Thon opened with the throwing of the first rock by PECMHF chair, Barbara McConnell, as many of the participants gathered for the kick-off.

“The businesses supported us very well,” added Stakes, who said they had over $5,000 worth of products donated to be auctioned off, including art work (stained glass, painting), wine, beer and cider selections, a barbeque/smoker, concert tickets, a birdbath, clay pot, a vegetable basket, a wrist watch and various gift baskets.

The goal was to have at least 96 participating curlers in the Curl-A-Thon which was surpassed with a total of 114 curlers, which included 16 in the Corporate Challenge.

Each team of four curlers received a two-hour time slot (typically eight ends of curling) where each player was required to collect a minimum of $100 each (so $400 per team).

“We asked for 96 people to curl around the clock, we got all 96, we asked for some corporate teams to come out and they brought money, they sat down, they ate, they had a good time.”

Local businesses were also encouraged to participate in the Corporate Challenge in games running concurrently with the other team games, also for a minimum pledge of $400.

But, of course, the Corporate Challenge was also about bragging rights vying for which business could fundraise the most for the cause.

In the last week, Stakes said the curling club were also selling 100 squares at $20 a piece, and if they all sold out (which they did), the lucky winner would get $1,000 in cash, along with $1,000 for the hospital build also.

“The idea was when we sold them all, we ran and draw the numbers to go down each side, it would correspond to the final digit of score in the game,” explained Stakes.

“The curling club has really pulled together something unique and every third-party event is unique and different in its own way and special,” said Coull. “This team really did it right, every volunteer had their niche and focussd on what they needed to do to contribute to the success of the event and it really turned out to be a group effort, and I think one of the reasons why it was so successful.”

As Stakes announced the top fundraisers, who each received a gift certificate from a local business, he said, some people went above and beyond with fundraising, adding there was some friendly rivalry too among those trying to raise the most money.

“I was feeling pretty good when Tom [Dmytar] was away on vacation that I had a head start on him on fundraising, I bragged a little bit, then he came back and talked to his business friends, so I ended up in third with $2,750,” Stakes said.

Tied for first place at $3,750 each raised were Steve Parks and Tom Dmytar.

Honourable mentions were given to Ilona Anderson who raised $2,015, Will Tammel at $2,100, and Vanessa Vansittart who brought in $2,508.

The winner of the 50/50 draw took home $760.

During the Curl-A-Thon, Kathy McAlpine of Everfit Studios was doing fascial stretch for a donation on Saturday morning, and Saturday night brought entertainment in the lounge with live music by Greg Hinde. Sunday morning began in style with mimosas and breakfast.

“By 2027, which is actually going to come quicker than we think, we’ll be walking into the new hospital in Prince Edward County and it’ll be the results of your efforts and your contributions to us reaching our goal, and we are so grateful,” added Coull.

However, she reminded that they still have close to $6 million left to raise.

“For community groups to come forward to continue to support our efforts is really, really important because we still have a little ways to go and we are not to going to be able to do it without our community’s support,” she said.

“Experiences like this remind us of why we are doing what we are doing, and it’s meaningful, it’s rewarding and its very heartwarming.”

She also spoke to how it takes a lot of stamina to keep maintaining an energy and a momentum when it comes to a huge fundraising undertaking like this, where she thanked the curling club.

“They have helped reignite some energy in the campaign and give us hope and courage that we can keep moving forward,” said Coull. “Because of our community, we are going to reach our goal, and we are not just going to have a new hospital in Prince Edward County, we are going to have a great hospital.”

Details about Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation, as well as ways to donate to the Back the Build campaign, can be found at pecmhf.ca.

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