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‘Care Close to Home’ begins ‘Million Dollar Countdown’


With less than a month to go to raise $800,000 for the “Care Close to Home” campaign, the Riverside Foundation for Heath Care announced its “Million Dollar Countdown” promotion to those on hand for a Christmas gala Saturday evening in Emo.

“We’re now in the home stretch of the ‘Care Close to Home’ campaign and our $3.5-million goal,” committee chairman John McTaggart told the roughly 150 people on hand at the Emo Community Centre.

“In the past couple weeks, we’ve been looking for a strategy to come forth with during these last few weeks,” he noted. “And we came up with the idea of a ‘Million Dollar Countdown.’

“The notion is that if 500 families in the district pledged just a loonie a day for five years, our goal would be exceeded,” he explained.

And as a reminder of the new promotion, gold-foil loonies were at each place setting.

“These are exciting times for health care in the Rainy River District,” enthused McTaggart. “With a brand new facility in Rainy River, the near completion of the Emo Health Centre, and renovations set to begin at La Verendrye in the spring, the Rainy River District will soon boast three first-class health care facilities.”

Foundation director Teresa Hazel said a good opportunity for people to phone in their pledges would be during the “Breakfast with Riverside” broadcast the committee will be doing with CFOB next Tuesday (Dec. 12) from 7-9 a.m.

A pancake breakfast will be served in the cafeteria at La Verendrye hospital, which the public is invited to attend.

Meanwhile, a letter and pledge card also have been sent to every home in the district, and all residents are encouraged to send in their pledge.

While organizers are geared up for this final push over the next few weeks, the campaign itself has not slowed down--bringing in $100,000 from numerous contributors in just one week (Nov. 24-Dec. 1).

And Saturday night’s dinner was a success, attracting about 150 guests, which at $50 a plate, made for more than $7,000.

Unlike the annual Riverside fundraiser dinner, which includes a silent auction, the Christmas gala was mainly a show appreciation to the community, said Foundation chairman Jim Krag.

He also acknowledged the efforts of McTaggart and former chair Clare Brunetta, who stepped down in September.

“Clare has worked tirelessly to promote the Foundation and its mission to raise funds for quality health care services for the benefit of all residents of the Rainy River District,” noted Krag.

Wayne Woods, CEO of Riverside Health Care Facilities Inc. here, also was on hand Saturday to give an update on renovations at Emo and La Verendrye hospital, including the latter’s new dialysis unit--of which $350,000 is being provided by the Foundation.

Renovations are slated to begin at the hospital here in spring, with hemodialysis treatment being offered as early as May.

While the renovations may not be complete for 18 months to two years, the dialysis unit will be established first in a temporary location there, noted Woods.

Once operational, 24 patients per week will benefit from its services. Woods noted Riverside knows of 16 district patients currently in need of dialysis treatments.

And in addition to several presentations, the evening was not all about business. Before the traditional Yuletide dinner, serving order was determined by which table sang Christmas carols when.

Afterwards, Jessica Hazel, accompanied by Cheryl Low on piano, sang “Breath of Heaven,” while Cindy Judson and Jack Wielinga treated listeners to “A Peace Carol.”

And after all the serious talk, the campaign committee got silly with reindeer get-ups and singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” while pushing around Santa Claus on a stretcher, reminiscent of the “stretch push” between Rainy River and Fort Frances that kicked off the fundraising campaign back in June.

Afterwards, local band “Milestone” hit the stage to give guests a chance to dance the rest of the night away.

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