The Hip Heals Fundraiser
- February 6, 2023
Raising money for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation in honour of Gord Downie from the Tragically Hip
The Rainbow Bistro was abuzz with excitement on October 20th, 2022 for the Hip Heals fundraising concert. A crowd of 165 attendees filled the local Ottawa restaurant, eager with anticipation for the eventful night to come.
Elliott Bourgeois, manager of the Welch Family Wealth Advisory group, and Chair of the Organizing Committee for the Hip Heals benefit concert, was thrilled to listen to the live music, but was most excited to see everybody that helped make it happen all in one place.
“It takes a village and I can’t thank the committee enough, but specifically Andrea Timlin (Director of Philanthropy – ORCF) and Kevin Ford (CEO of Calian – title sponsor) enough for the work they put in,” says Elliott. “There’s no way this event happens without the work they did!”
In the early summer of 2022, the planning of this fundraiser event began with an idea to pay tribute to a band that shaped the perception of what it means to be Canadian to many, while supporting a cause that is near and dear to the hearts of even more people. Four years ago, Bruce Raganold and his friend Jennifer Cross conceived the idea of a benefit concert to raise funds for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, and with the energy and passion of the Organizing Committee, were finally able to make it into a reality. “I recently joined the ORCF Cabinet (fundraising committee),” says Elliott, “and I was looking for a way to make a big impact as soon as possible. I took the idea and ran with it!”
This October marks five years since one of Canada’s greatest rock icons, Gord Downie, passed away at age 53 from glioblastoma, an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer. As one of the most influential artists in Canadian music history, Gord Downie’s battle with terminal brain cancer left an impact on the hearts of Canadians. The Tragically Hip held their last Ottawa performance in 2016 as part of Downie’s final tour with the band. As such, the Hip Heals is a community fundraising event meant to bring Ottawa businesses together in support of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.
This Hip Heals event was not only a way for the community to honour Canada’s front man, Gord Downie, but to also raise money to help fight the disease that took Gord and so many others too soon. 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with a form of cancer in their lifetime. This disease is cruel, brutal, and heartbreaking, which is why our community needs organizations like the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation to provide a safe space and a voice for cancer survivorship.
Kim Mountain’s heartfelt story during the evening is evidence of what this group does and why it’s so important to help fund the cause.
“For two weeks, the Ottawa Hospital became my second home,” tells Kim. “To this day, I don’t know why I wasn’t scared,” she says. “I guess the hospital staff made me feel safe and confident.”
Gord Downie’s spirit was evident at the Hip Heals fundraiser. As a young country looking for an identity, the Tragically Hip provided a soundtrack to Canadian culture. Gord certainly highlighted what made our nation great while also shedding light on the indigenous voices and social justice issues present in our country. Gord was a trailblazer in that respect and continues to have impact through his Wenjack charity .
Loyal to their roots in Ottawa, this event was a way for the committee to also support local musicians and live music venues. The last couple of years have been difficult for many artists and business owners, especially with the feeling of togetherness just out of reach. Those affected by the pandemic closures were particularly hard-hit, live musicians and music venues being one such group. It was important to the organizing committee to support local businesses and artists for this event as they are the backbone of what makes the city what it is. Elliott managed to book a number of local musicians to perform at the event, including the talented Hip cover band Grace, 2. When asked how the cover band was invited to play, Elliott shared:
“I was really hoping Grace 2 was available and that we were not asking for too much for a charity event. But by some miracle, they were available and willing to trip down to Ottawa from Toronto to come play for us… and they CRUSHED IT!”
The event was kick-started by 16-year-old student from Canterbury High School, Ellie Richardson-Andrews, performing 2 original songs for the opening act of the evening. Ellie was followed by Ottawa-based alternative folk musician Rory Taillon, who filled the room with his soulful voice. To wrap up the local performances, Elliott called on stage Kevin Ford, title sponsor and CEO of Callian. Kevin Ford is part of a grassroots campaign that helped keep the doors open at the Rainbow Bistro when it was announced that the live music venue was going to permanently close during the pandemic.
Of course, putting together an in-person concert event does have its challenges. After a significant amount of time attending and hosting virtual events, getting back into the detailed planning and preparations of an in-person event involved a large learning curve, but that wasn’t the only obstacle. Elliott tells us that getting sponsorships was a big hurdle in the preparation of the event. Elliott says: “The ask wasn’t small; it was $5000 minimum to have your logo on the website and support the event. It took a lot of groundwork to get funds in the door and get organizations to buy in. Fundraising is a tough thing!”
With the sponsorships and funds considered, the fundraising goal of the Hip Heals event was $50,000. The event blew past that goal and raised approximately $90,000 at the end of the night.
A special shoutout to the guys at Stripe Studios (Jon and Mike King), who donated their time, equipment, and production skills in broadcasting the event live online! It was unplanned to have the event livestreamed and recorded for others to watch remotely.
“I didn’t expect there to be a recording but the guys were amazing,” Elliott tells us. “The production was remarkable, the highest quality you could imagine – that really blew me away!
A huge thank you also goes out to the Sponsors:
- Beyond Yoga Studio & Wellness Centre
- Welch LLP
- Altis Recruitment
- Ryan Jones Real Estate Broker
- Perley-Robertson, ill & McDougall LLP
- Purpose Investments
A round of applause for the Friends of the Show:
- Lesley Thompson
- Ian Sherman
- Peter Nicholson
- Marant Construction
- Andrew Millar
- Neil Moloney
- James Ciesielski
- Oliver Kershaw
- Goran Samuel Pesic
- Ronald Richardson
- Kevin McCartney
- Ryan Cullum
- Robert Milling
- Convergence Network
And finally, an enormous congratulations goes out to the Organizing Committee for a fantastic event:
- Elliott Bourgeois
- Jennifer Cross
- Andrea Timlin
- Bruce Raganold
- Jim Carty
- Mariam Sarr
View the full recording here
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