$5,000-a-ticket ‘Twinkle Gala’ to be held at Michael Potter’s Ottawa mansion

Lavish benefit aims to make Ottawa Hospital fundraising history, in aid of newborn and maternal health
Michael Potter

A group of Ottawa philanthropists is throwing a fundraiser unlike any other seen in our fair city.

This Thursday, more than 200 attendees of a $5,000-a-ticket Alice in Wonderland-themed charity gala will be heading to the Rockcliffe Park mansion belonging to prominent philanthropist Michael Potter, former long-time executive chief of Cognos and founder of Vintage Wings of Canada.

There, partygoers will wine and dine the night away while rubbing shoulders with such Canadian talent as rock legend Randy Bachman, down-to-earth folk rock singer-songwriter Alan Doyle, multiple Juno Award-winner Serena Ryder – all of whom are performing that night – and the evening’s comedic emcee, Mark Critch, from This Hour has 22 Minutes fame.

Proceeds are going toward the extensive rebuilding of The Ottawa Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the General Hospital to help premature and critically ill newborns. It’s predicted the gala will be the largest third-party fundraising benefit in the hospital’s history.

The site chief of neonatology at the hospital’s Civic campus, Dr. Pradeep Merchant, is co-chairing the gala with Ottawa perinatologist and the hospital’s chief of obstetrics, Dr. George Tawagi, and Lift charitable foundation co-founder Gary Zed, who was named Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser last year by the Ottawa chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

“Dr. Tawagi and Dr. Merchant are renowned in their respective fields, and we are fortunate to have them in our great city to take care of our most vulnerable  patients,” said Zed. “Without their passion and vision this event would not take place.”

Organizers are hoping to raise more than $1 million from the Twinkle Twinkle Future Stars Gala. Its proceeds will help the hospital to close in on the $5 million it needs to raise from the community toward its $10-million NICU project.

Roger Greenberg, chairman of Minto, and one of his fellow Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group partners, John Ruddy, executive chairman of Trinity Development, are honourary chairs, along with Potter.

Dinner will be served harvest-table style beneath elaborate party tents in Potter’s spacious and idyllic backyard. The lineup of participating chefs is top-notch, consisting of chefs Marc Lepine (Atelier), Chris Deraiche (Wellington Gastropub), Justin Faubert and Kylie Anglesey (Thyme & Again), Tim Stock (Play food and wine) and Joe Thottungal (Coconut Lagoon).

“It’s a great way to kick off Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations and it’s sure to be the event of the year,” said Zed.

– caroline@obj.ca