Organizers behind the upcoming Lacombe Athletic Park Association (L.A.P.A.) Gala are excited to see plans for the event taking shape after having had to miss 2021.
Guests will enjoy a silent auction, raffles, great food, entertainment, and music through the course of the evening, which runs March 4 at the Lacombe Memorial Centre.
It is the largest annual fundraiser organized by the L.A.P.A. and features community members coming together with professional athletes and celebrity guests to raise funds to help subsidize community and amateur sports.
Things kick off with cocktails at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:45 p.m. and entertainment.
Delaney Hill, the special events coordinator for the Lacombe Athletic Park, said that this year marks the 13th rendition of the popular event.
“The community is very passionate about supporting youth athletics and youth sports - and that’s what we are all about. And so with our fundraisers, we always bring out sports celebrities so that people can get to know them and interact with them,” she said, adding that this year’s special guest is John Cornish, a former Canadian football running back who played nine seasons with the Calgary Stampeders.
“We are super happy to have him join us, and to hear him speak because he’s pretty inspirational,” she said.
Cornish was inducted as a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2019.
Career highlights include two Grey Cup championships among several other accolades.
“Lately, we’ve been having an autograph session on the afternoon of the event that is free for all the kids from the community to come down and meet some of their heroes - so that is really special,” she said.
Other guests this year include Calvin McCarty, Matthew O’Donnell, Tanner Green, and Cole Nelson - some local athletes who have also had great success playing sports professionally, she said.
Delaney said that the event’s proceeds ultimately go to supporting the Athletic Park.
“We support local youth sports with subsidized rates, and we are always just trying to improve that facility,” she explained.
According to the organization’s website, L.A.P.A. is a non-profit organization that is responsible for the facility development as well as the ongoing operation of the park.
After entering into a sub-lease agreement with the City, L.A.P.A. manages the facility for the City of Lacombe and handles marketing, booking, and the related operations of the park including all related expenses and the funding of a capital reserve.
The Association is mandated to provide local groups with subsidized rates to use the facility and to promote the park as a multi-use facility for local, regional, and provincial sporting and cultural events.
It was back in June 2009 that the Lacombe Athletic Park Association was incorporated.
”I love to see the overwhelming response of the local businesses with donating prizes, purchasing tables, and bringing their teams out to have a fun night celebrating what we’ve been able to accomplish and to also show their support as we move forward,” said Hill.
“And for the first time, we are also bringing our silent auction online, so instead of only being able to bid on items at the event, we are having it on Bid Beacon, so the silent auction will be open for a full week before the event - and right until closing on the night of it,” she explained.
“So you don’t have to attend to bid on those items. We are really excited about that.”
In the meantime, Hill said plans are taking shape to add a track and field facility to the park.
This will include an eight-lane, rubberized track around the football field and also putting in various features for events ranging from high-jump, to shot-put and hurdles.
“Once we can get that completed, Lacombe will be able to host track and field events right up to hopefully the Olympic-training level,” she said.
“We can then start pumping out some more Olympic athletes from central Alberta,” she added.
“We are looking forward to that in the near future. The other nice thing about having that facility is that not only is it for training at a professional level, but it will also be free and open for public use. It will be a really great resource for the citizens of Lacombe to just have a place to go and walk or run - it will be accessible for everyone to enjoy,” she added.
For Gala tickets ($150 each or $1,200 for a table of eight), call 403-872-9885 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Folks are also encouraged to dress as their favourite super hero or villain or to wear their favourite jersey.
For more about L.A.P.A, find them on Facebook at ‘MEGlobal Athletic Park Lacombe’.