By Michelle Bailey (@MichelleBailey1)
WINNIPEG — MTS Centre was alive with glitter and glamour Saturday night as Winnipeggers and celebrities came together to raise funds and bring awareness to the importance of organ donation.
The gala event, inspired by Canadian musician and producer David Foster and the foundation he created in 1988, has been held in major cities throughout Canada. This is the first time it has taken place in Winnipeg.
Money raised at the event goes towards non-medical expenses for those who have children in need of a major organ transplant.
The star-studded evening included a red carpet (that was actually purple, which is the official colour of the foundation). Celebrities who made their way along to speak to and pose for the paparazzi before moving on to ice level for dinner included musicians Carly Rae Jepsen, Seal, The Tenors, Michael Bolton, Jackie Evancho and actor/comedian Sinbad.
A concert featuring several of the performing artists in attendance was also part of the event.
Grammy Award-winning singer Bolton, who has been involved with past galas, said he is thrilled to be a part of Foster’s dream to raise $30 million by 2017. The popular musician told ChrisD.ca, “It’s an amazing organization to be a part of and I hope we raise more money than we did ($6.5 million) in Toronto last year. Organ donation is life-altering and life-saving.”
According to the Canadian Transplant Society, 90 per cent of Canadians support organ donation, but less than 20 per cent are registered as actual donors. The number of donors in Manitoba is even lower. Foster said only one to two percent of the population have signed up to be donors.
“This whole organ donor situation is a fixable problem,” he said. “If 100 per cent of people in the country were organ donors, no one would be waiting for an organ.”
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, who attended the event with wife Tracy, said he’s had an active organ donor card since getting his drivers’ licence as a teen. He has since signed up to be a donor online through signupforlife.ca.
“I want to be able to prove that as a lawyer and a politician, that I have a heart,” he quipped.