Black Tie Bingo fundraiser makes a last-minute venue change after flooding jeopardizes the event

It was mid-afternoon, Dec. 22, 2017.

Staff at The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital were preparing to depart for their Christmas break when they received the devastating news.

A fire suppression water pipe located in The Village by the Arboretum’s Village Centre had ruptured and caused extensive damage. Most distressingly, the reconstruction would not be finished in time to host Black Tie Bingo, Guelph’s largest fundraising gala in support of Guelph General Hospital. For 13 years the sold-out event had flourished in that location. Now, with only weeks to go before the March 3 event, organizers were facing a major crisis.

No other venue in Guelph has ever been identified as a more ideal space. The Village by the Arboretum Residents Association (VBARA) has been the BTB site sponsor since 2004. Over the years, organizing the event has been finely tuned almost guaranteeing a stellar event enjoyed by all who attended. With the event just shy of two months out and Christmas in between, it was a daunting realization that the sold-out Black Tie Bingo with its 450 guests would have to relocate.

“We start planning Black Tie Bingo days after the previous year’s event ending,” said David Halls, Chair of the BTB Committee. “At the time we got the news, most decisions were made, every logistical consideration figured out, the caterer and every detail of the meal confirmed. We needed a new venue that would allow us to maintain our event date and allow full flexibility to maintain our plans.”

After three weeks of researching every possible option, an unexpected opportunity surfaced to the top – the former Sears space located in Stone Road Mall.

When the management team at Stone Road Mall and Primaris Management Inc. was approached, their response was immediate and generous. They embraced the opportunity to be the BTB 2018 official Site Sponsor.

“Immediately we knew that we wanted to work with the GGH as we strive to be an active and supportive presence in our community.  We were aware of the important fundraising efforts that come from the BTB event and with the recent closure of Sears, we identified the opportunity to welcome an event of this size to our property” explained Christina Magee, Marketing Manager, Stone Road Mall.

It was a welcome solution to what could have been a catastrophe said Suzanne Bone, the Foundation’s CEO. “This year, more than ever, we are grateful for all our BTB sponsors and supporters. The coming together of community that we are experiencing as we navigate through this change is remarkable.”

The team at Stone Road mall has responded with urgency, bringing all departments together to sort through the logistics and determine what their team can do and within the designated timeline to make the space ready. They have also made it their top priority to ensure that any additional operational costs to make this event happen at Stone Road Mall are absorbed by their team to alleviate the costs to GGH.

Many other of the event sponsors and those that donate in-kind product or service towards the event have also increased their commitment to help ensure this year’s event lives up to the same high standards that the BTB guests have come to expect.

Black Tie Bingo is in its 22nd year. It has raised over $2.75 million, helping fund a significant number of essential patient care equipment needs at the Hospital. This year it is expected to raise over $250,000.

The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital is continuing to accept sponsorships and silent and live auction prizes until February 20th.

While many of the costs associated with moving this year’s event have been minimized by the generosity of Stone Road Mall, Primaris Management and many other in-kind sponsors, the expenses are still anticipated to be over and above the previous years.

“We need to ensure we hit our fundraising goal and that as much as possible of the event proceeds are directed towards supporting patient care at the Hospital” said Bone. “We’re still hoping that we can hit our fundraising goal, and raise as much as possible to support the purchase of urgently needed hospital equipment.”