15th annual Lumière Gala raises record-breaking funds for cancer foundation

Sold-out event hosted by tech giant Terry Matthews' Brookstreet Hotel, Wesley Clover Foundation

The Lumière Gala has become one of the bright lights on Ottawa’s gala scene, and not just because it features its very own personal fireworks show.

What began in 2003 as a grand opening hotel celebration has evolved into an annual gala that’s cumulatively raised more than a million dollars for local charities. A sold-out crowd of 650-plus partygoers attended this year’s $150-a-ticket gala, held Thursday at the west-end Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata.

“This year is going to be bloody good because it’s the biggest one we’ve ever held,” hotel owner and Ottawa-made tech titan Terry Matthews said while speaking at a VIP reception held exclusively for major sponsors.

And he was right; the gala set a new fundraising record by bringing in an estimated $115,000 for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation (that doesn’t include proceeds from the Keltic Cup fundraising tournament held that day at the hotel’s golf club, The Marshes).

The Brookstreet has been partnering up with the philanthropic arm of Matthews’ Wesley Clover International to host the popular evening.

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Sir Terry Matthews, speaking at a VIP reception during the 15th annual Lumière Gala held at the Brookstreet Hotel on Thursday, September 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

This year’s Canada 150-theme offered guests A Taste of Canada from every province and territory, along with an assortment of wines and beer. Bay of Fundy lobster, shrimp and scallops; Alberta beef brisket; mussels, salted cod and crab beignet; buffalo steak and kidney pie; smoked pork belly; and maple sugar pie were among the culinary choices.

The Cambridge Bay Arctic char from Nunavut was the favourite of Nyle Kelly, the newly promoted general manager of the Brookstreet Hotel. He took over from Patrice Basille, who retired from his long-held position but continues to work for Matthews. Basille missed the gala because he was away in Orléans (as in France and not the other end of town).

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From left, Nyle Kelly with John Ouellette, vice president of philanthropy for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, Terry Matthews and Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson at the 15th annual Lumière Gala held at the Brookstreet Hotel on Thursday, September 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

 

For many business professionals and entrepreneurs, Lumière is a night of mingling in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. It’s not easy, however, to get everyone to quiet down. Just ask Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation president and CEO Linda Eagen. She used a cowbell to hush the room before making her brief remarks about the promising cancer-fighting clinical trials happening in Ottawa.

Loyal attendees of the gala include Ottawa entrepreneur Bruce Linton, chairman and CEO of Canopy Growth Corp. “The best part (of the evening) is the networking, and meeting those people that you want to see all year long, but you get so busy working that you don’t get to,” he explained.

Jeff Johnson, a partner at sponsor Deloitte, also uses the evening to catch up with clients and contacts. “It’s the best couple of hours you can probably spend in a year,” he told OBJ.social.

Still, it was worth taking a social time-out to soak in the live Cuban jazz music, performed by jazz pianist Miguel De Armas and his musical guests.

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From left, Jeff Johnson from sponsor Deloitte with Bruce Linton and his wife, Heather,  at the 15th annual Lumière Gala held at the Brookstreet Hotel on Thursday, September 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Steve Spooner, chief financial officer at sponsor Mitel, with his wife, Donna, at the 15th annual Lumière Gala held at the Brookstreet Hotel on Thursday, September 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Peter Strom, president and CEO of March Networks, with his wife, Elizabeth Figueroa, and Don Smith, retired CEO of Mitel, with his wife, Melanie,  at the 15th annual Lumière Gala held at the Brookstreet Hotel, in support of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, on Thursday, September 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Cancer survivor and local celebrity ‘Stuntman Stu’ Schwartz commanded the stage during the live action. He sold such enviable items as a 100-level suite to a Senators vs. Canadiens game, a six-course chef’s table for 10 at the hotel’s Perspectives Restaurants, and a one-week stay in a large luxury villa in the Grand Cayman that fetched a lofty price of $17,000 from Faces Magazine owner Justin MacKinnon.

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Local celebrity 'Stuntman Stu' Schwartz, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016, was back in auction as emcee and live auctioneer for the 15th annual Lumière Gala held in support of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation at the Brookstreet Hotel on Thursday, September 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The always-popular golf break for four at Matthews’ The Celtic Manor in Wales, with limousine shuttle to and from Heathrow Airport, was back on the auction block. The trip has been bought a bunch of times in past years by Kent Browne, owner of sponsor Royal LePage Team Realty. Unfortunately, he was sick this year and couldn't attend. Not a problem, though. His wife, Mary, and daughter, Abby, were there. Abby consulted with her father, via cell phone, throughout a tense bidding war and won the trip for $5,000.

caroline@obj.ca