Once again, Lacombe Athletic Park Association’s annual fundraiser has been a great success.
On March 8, the LAPA held its fifth annual fundraising gala, its major fundraiser for the year and raised nearly $45,000.
“It was a great night that brought together the community as a whole to continue to support our goal to keep MEGlobal Athletic Park operating and growing,” said LAPA Chair Gary MacDonald.
Jon Cornish, a Calgary Stampeders running back who has been part of the gala for the past four years, said that Lacombe’s continued support of the gala shows that the community cares greatly about developing their young athletes.
“I think Lacombians have a lot of pride in their community,” said Cornish. “And now having been part of this event for four years, I have a lot of pride in this community.”
Cornish also said he thought having a world-class facility in Lacombe such as the ME Global Athletic Park was a huge advantage for Lacombe’s young athletes.
He added that practicing at such a facility was something he did not have the privilege of as a developing player.
“I understand the benefits of having a great athletic facility,” said Cornish. “I think it’s the facility they deserve.”
Cornish was one of the celebrity athletes at the gala who was auctioned off. Winning bidders got to enjoy the meal with the celebrity at their table as well as other sports swag.
Cornish said he was auctioned off to a table of Roughrider and Stampeder fans for $23,000.
That was a personal best and a large step up from when he was first auction off at the gala for $450.
He added that he can almost gauge how he has done in the season by how much he goes for at the gala.
Over 350 people enjoyed a fine meal, entertainment, live and silent auctions as well as raffles, games and a few other fun diversions as part of the gala.
Former Chair Darren Gagnon, one of the event’s organizers, said this year’s gala was quite possibly within the top two fundraisers of the five that have been held.
“It got rave reviews,” said Gagnon. “A lot of people were very happy.”
Gagnon went on to say there were more people at the event, more donations for auction items and that the live auction items went for more money than at any previous gala.
He added that it was probably the one where the association was most organized.
Also new this year was the entertainment.
Gagnon said this was the first year the gala had entertainment other than a musical group and instead those in attendance were entertained throughout the evening by interactive character comedian Gery Schubert.
Gagnon said Schubert seemed to fit the bill at the gala perfectly, saying that the guests enjoyed his entertainment, the celebrities enjoyed interacting with him and the association felt that he had even helped raise some of the money.
Schubert entertained and emceed Saturday night’s event by putting guests through ‘spy school’ for the ‘secret organization’ of LAPA through his characterization of Austin Powers.
There was also a brief appearance from the King of Rock n’ Roll himself, Elvis Presley.
Other personas from Schubert’s repertoire include Don Cherry, Dr. Phil, Captain Jack Sparrow, Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and Queen Elizabeth II.
At most recent count, Schubert had about 55 different characters he impersonates, he said. He added that some of them are creations of his own.
According to Schubert, the most difficult part of impersonating is not getting the aspects of the characters perfectly right, but finding characters who can hold an audience’s attention all night.
He said that he does work to get the personas, voices and costumes (something he admitted being particularly picky about) as close to the real deal as possible but does not focus on any one aspect in particular because the audience tends to buy the whole illusion once it all comes together.
Many of Schubert’s characters come from having to generate new ideas for repeat gigs.
He also said that some of them have been born out of requests.
Schubert said he has quite a bit of experience working fundraising events such as the LAPA gala.
He added that he is always very enthusiastic and tries his best to help whatever the organization is raise as much money as possible.
Meanwhile, money raised at the gala will go towards meeting the ongoing goal of the LAPA.
“Our mandate continues to be to build and operate a state of the art facility that drives visitors to our community.” Already, LAPA has met to discuss the successes of this year’s gala and will begin planning for next year’s shortly.