Bigwin Gala raises $180,000 for area health care
By Lee Ross
Published July 19, 2018
The sixth annual Bigwin Gala was held on Saturday, July 7, on Bigwin Island. The gala is the summer premier fundraising event organized and run by volunteers and the Lake of Bays Marine Museum and Navigation Society (S.S. Bigwin, registered charity). It is led by Matt and Francine Gaasenbeek with Mark and Wanda Cowie, and Collin Reaney is the local representative of the group.
Collin Reaney says “the Bigwin’s goals are to save and restore the S.S. Bigwin, an important part of Lake of Bays marine history, and to add to the ambiance and nostalgia of the beautiful Lake of Bays.”
He adds “it also assists the local community by creating a destination brand to assist in economic development and to create a high-quality, safe and memorable customer experience.”
The objectives of the gala are to leverage the S.S. Bigwin “brand” by raising money in support of health care, heritage and economics. Over the past six years the gala has raised more than $2 million for local charities. This year alone the gala raised $180,000 alone for the Huntsville hospital to build a mental health safe room.
The money raised will also go to Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation, Huntsville Hospital Foundation, Dorset Community Health Care Hub and new this year, the Dorset Heritage Museum. The S.S. Bigwin also supports a number of other charities with free cruises, including Moorelands Starry night, local library campaigns and other social service groups.
Money is raised through silent auction, live auction, ticket sales, sponsorship and direct appeals like the $180,000 raised this year for the Huntsville Hospital Mental Health Program.
The attendees range from 200 to 220 people each year. Attendance is by invitation or anyone who wants to purchase a ticket. The gala features auctions, dinner and dancing and is a great chance for folks on the lake to network and become more familiar with community needs and community work in the area.
Collin mentions this event is important because it is primarily a way for cottagers in the Lake of Bays area to give back to the community (health care, heritage/conservancy) and contribute to a vibrant economy and tourism.
For information on next year’s Bigwin Gala, visit ssbigwin.com in the new year.
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