On June 5, 2014, over 300 people woke up a little earlier to at attend the 6th Annual Spirit of Chrysalis Gala Breakfast held at the beautiful new DoubleTree by Hilton West Edmonton. Not only did these folks make it on time for the 730 am start time, they proved how big the hearts of Edmontonians can be!
Guests arrived in droves starting at 7 am to ensure they were in their seats for our program. Coffee was fully stocked and in high demand throughout the morning! Our program emcee, Kim Dingler, started the proceedings just after 730 and introduced the Chrysalis Charitable Foundation board chair, Mary Pat Barry to address the crowd. Mary Pat opened with a fantastic speech about the power of community to really set the tone for the morning.
We were honoured to have Naresh Bhardwaj, Associate Minister of Services for Persons with Disabilities, bring greetings on behalf of the Province before continuing with our program. Chrysalis President and CEO, Lynn Groves Hautmann, took the stage next and delivered a stirring speech about the new direction Chrysalis has undertaken over the past 18 months and how the change instituted within the organization is creating even more inclusive opportunities for Chrysalis individuals to be involved in their own communities through meaningful employment and volunteer roles. Lynn then introduced our corporate video which highlighted many of the programs and services offered to those accessing our services and shared some terrific success stories throughout the seven minute production.
Once the lights returned, Noel Bentley, the figurehead behind the recently created photography program, was on stage to inform people about the impact Chrysalis and the individuals he has the opportunity to work with has left on his life in such a short time. Noel came to Chrysalis after attending the 2013 Gala Breakfast with the idea of volunteering his time towards this program. While it didn’t exactly go as he originally planned, in the span of 10 short months he had laid the ground work for something special. Not only that but he had created some deep rooted friendships with the people accessing his program. Truly a sign that this event stretches far beyond simply monetary support for our organization. You can view some examples of the photos taking by our individuals in this Facebook gallery.
Noel gave way to the person who would then steal the show. Chrysalis individual Erica Richards stood in front of the now wide awake audience and delivered what was arguably the most memorable, heart-wrenching, inspiring story of perseverance and triumph ever told at one of these events. Speaking completely off the cuff, Erica had the entire audience in the palm of her hand. Laughing, crying, hanging on every word she delivered. By the end of her speech the whole room stood and applauded the woman she has now become thanks to her amazingly strong will and the support of the people around her and the staff at Chrysalis.
Chrysalis Society Board Chair, Patty Whiting, wrapped up the program by asking everyone in the room to consider lending their support to the work they had just been informed about. By the end of the hour, over $145,000 was raised, a total that has now eclipsed $150,000 and rising, to support the continued enhancement of the programs and services offered at Chrysalis. We cannot thank our donors, sponsors, star donors, staff and volunteers enough for the support they have pledged to our organization!
Thank you to all who attended the event. Just being there to hear our story will help make a difference in the lives of the individuals with disabilities whom we serve at Chrysalis.
Take a look at some of the photos taken at the event on our Facebook page