The Harvest of Hope

Right in the middle of my stint as a celebrity waiter at The Harvest of Hope fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society, I looked up and took in the view. It was as if I was in the middle of a beehive with all kinds of movement and colours scurrying about, a high frequency buzz, random, frenetic.

This event has become one of the staples of the fall fundraising season in Fort McMurray along with the Keyano College Foundation Gala and the Hospital Foundation's Festival of Trees. Over 350 guests piled into the ballroom at the Sawridge Inn & Conference Centre cashing in their real money for Harvest of Hope play money. In exchange they got a tax receipt and currency to tip the celebrity waiters that provided them cutlery and napkins, fetched their drinks and served their food. In between they sang and danced for tips, responded to dares and pretty much did whatever it took to coax the guests back to the entry table to buy more fun money.

The Realtors seem to be top dogs when it came to raising the big bucks. Lisa Hartigan from Remax was a bucketful of energy and ideas, completely unafraid to stir the pot and do all kinds of business. By the time I left she was north of $11,000. Jason Blair was right up there as was Christian MacNeill, a former student executive at Keyano turned realtor with Prudential. Marty Giles from Ford, guitar in hand, was in the top five, along with my new friend and Council hopeful, Don Scott from McMurray Law Office.

Council candidate Ross Jacobs was auctioneer for the event and put my Heart Project on the block along with some Calgary Hitmen tickets donated by CEDA. The package went for somewhere in the $700 range which was awesome. Now whether the purchaser was more interested in the hockey tickets or my art work, I have no idea. I'd like to think the latter, but in the craziness of the moment, it's impossible to tell.

My favourite part of being a celebrity waiter was doing the serving. I love to serve. It takes me back to my days as a room service attendant at the Holiday Inn in Saskatoon. I really enjoyed balancing a tray full of food, negotiating tight turns and crowded elevators to safely arrive at the guest's door. I'm less comfortable with the goofy stuff and asking guests for money, but I still found myself on stage with an incredible lady from Atco Gas, doing a duet of Paradise by the Dashboard Lights by Meatloaf. Terri and I raised over $400. I'm sure I sounded awful, but she was spot-on perfect through the entire 8 minutes that seemed to go on forever.

In the end, the celebrity waiters, about 35 strong, managed to raise over $70,000. Silent and live auction items likely took the total well beyond $100,000.

I acquiesced to my exhaustion after six hours on my feet and drove home to my wife, head spinning from one crazy night. We put up our feet, watched a couple of episodes from season six of The West Wing, then drifted off to sleep.

September 19, 2010 - 197.6 pounds, 35.3% body fat


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